How to Recreate Golden Hour Without the Sun

It's not uncommon for couples to request that their wedding portraits be taken during golden hour, the time when the setting sun is low in the sky, casting a beautiful orange, golden glow across the land. However, wedding days are unpredictable, the day doesn't always go according to the planned schedule and can often run behind. So what do you do when its time to shoot the wedding portraits but the sun has already moved past its magical position in the sky? Check out this video from photographer Pye Jirsa of Lin & Jirsa Photography, where he explains how to recreate Golden hour without the sun and using a powerful flash.

In the video, you can tell that the sun is just about to go down, it is already below the horizon line and the last remnants of its glow can be seen in the sky. Jirsa recreates the sun by placing a Profoto B1 flash, several hundred feet behind the couple and just about on the horizon line where the sun would be. The assistant held two full OTC orange gels in front of the flash to give it that orange glow that the sun makes. When the flash goes off, it shines through the shot and hits many objects as the sun would. Check out the examples below. 

The results are pretty amazing. While the Profoto B1 isn't exactly the most affordable flash on the market, these images certainly show how having a high quality, powerful strobe that you can trigger from a distance can really help influence your creativity. If your interested in seeing more examples of off camera flash, check out the Profoto website or head over to the Lin & Jirsa Photography website. You can also check out their workshop, Lighting 201 | Single Source Off-Camera Light Shaping

[images used with permission from Lin & Jirsa Photography] 

[via petapixel]


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Thomas Hansen's picture

anyone else notice the beautiful golden sun hitting the trees at 2:23? The video is blowout, but there is a golden sunset. How do we know for sure the B1's are creating the golden light and not the actual sunset? 300ft away would be an entire football field. Theres no way you would have enough power

Joseph Cha's picture

at 2:23 pye is just testing to see if the profoto b1 will work with the groom as his subject, the bride still hasn't come down yet, and when the bride finally does come down at 3:27 all that gold in the trees is gone.

David Strauss's picture

I think what you need to realize is the video is shot with super high ISO and it looks bright outside. The reality is the scene is actually relatively dark so the strobe can do a lot of the hard work without the ambient over powering it.

Neo Racer's picture

Right! And I caught Fstoppers faking shit before on one of their videos with the 'flashlight' trick so...pinch of salt..

Patrick Hall's picture

are you the youtube guy who left that comment? I read that today and didn't know what you were talking about. You don't think we used a flashlight on the iphone bikini shoot? Only smoke what you roll yourself :)

Brian Dowling's picture

He is using two strobes. One for the couple and one for the trees. You can see the orange flash during his first shot of the couple around 2:24 into the video.

Rex Larsen's picture

Nice tutorial, but I'm puzzled how the flash could light such a wide background area while pointed at a foreground subject. Since the flash used is only 500 WS, many less expensive monolights will provide the same light. For the same price you can have three lighter-weight 640 WS Einsteins with batteries and still buy lunch.

Alex Qrea's picture

It's a flash, not a snoot, placed that far, it's obvious it spreads out. Your price argument is ridiculous though, thanks for making me laugh.

Patrick Hall's picture

Of course you could use Alien Bees or any other flash for that matter (might need a few lesser powered ones), the point isn't that "OMG they are using expensive gear" should be a really helpful tip you can use for your own wedding work. Not sure why a photo tip turns into complaining about the gear they used to do it

Lubos Durica's picture


Rex Larsen's picture

Glad to make you laugh, Alex. Please explain why the cost comment is ridiculous.

Rex Larsen's picture

I didn't read any equipment complaints or omg quotes in the comments below the helpful article and Profoto promo. A Broncolor Scoros S 3200 should also work well for the described technique. Some may find that ridiculous. I remain curious how a single strobe pointed toward the subject lit such a wide area in the background of the lovely portrait. The idea of using a strobe to duplicate the setting sun is a great technique. I like the assistant being told, "go back to where the sun is."