How to Create Your Own Golden Hour

For years, photographers have understood that creating the best photograph possible means shooting in the best possible light. For natural light shooters, the best light often comes at a time known as the golden hour. This occurs when the sun is setting and the angle of the sun to the earth causes the light to travel through clouds and air pollution creating soft, diffused light. The color of this light is warm and the look is beautiful on all skin tones.

The golden hour also occurs at sunrise, but in my view, the window of time in which the best light falls on the subject is very short and the light becomes harsh and ugly very quickly. For those times when you can't plan your shoot around golden hour, it is helpful to be able to simulate the look of this warm, soft light. Shooting in an artificially created golden hour has the added advantage of allowing you to shoot for as long as you desire. The naturally occurring doesn’t last an actual hour.

In this video, photographer Simone Ferretti shows his process of artificially creating golden hour light. He uses an inexpensive Nanlite Forza 60B Bi-Color LED Monolight Kit along with some everyday objects that serve as gobos. One nice thing about Simone’s video is that it doesn’t follow the time-wasting format of starting with an introduction, which is followed by a sizzle reel, which is followed by a second introduction, which is followed by a plea to like and subscribe. Instead, there is a brief sales pitch for some Lightroom presets and the instruction begins at a very reasonable 25 seconds.

John Ricard's picture

John Ricard is a NYC based portrait photographer. You can find more of Ricard’s work on his Instagram. accounts, and

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Shooting wide open at 1.2 is always pretty daring....but so is shooting through a tennis racquet or a plant with just an LED light.

--- "Shooting wide open at 1.2 is always pretty daring"

Not when shooting Sony. It's a walk in the park. :D