How to fake the ‘golden hours’ in Photoshop… even if you shot a JPEG

How to fake the 'golden hour' in Photoshop… even if you shot a JPEG

There are two official golden hours each day – the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. In both cases, the sun is very low in the sky and casts a golden light over the landscape. In this tutorial we’ll show you a quick way to recreate this golden glow on the computer should you have not been fortunate enough to capture it in-camera.

How to fake the 'golden hour' in Photoshop… even if you shot a JPEG

It’s fantastic for giving a warm glow to architectural shots and can also be lovely for portraiture. At this time of year, when the sun is much lower in the sky for more of the daylight hours, your photographic opportunities are extended.

One problem that photographers often run into is that the Auto white balance setting of digital cameras aims to produce a colour rendition that’s reasonably free of colour casts.

How to fake golden hours

Here we just missed the light of the golden hour

The natural golden glow from when the sun is very low in the sky can therefore be tuned out. You’ll find that if you switch to a preset Daylight (sunny) white balance setting, the golden glow should be faithfully reproduced.

Using a preset cloudy or shade white balance setting will progressively exaggerate the golden colour in the scene.

As with any scenario, shooting in raw format keeps your options open, as you can alter the white balance setting at the photo editing stage, and fine-tune it for optimum results.

How to recreate a golden hour

How to recreate a golden hour: step 1

1  Remove the colour cast
Select the Remove Colour Cast option from the Enhance>Adjust Colour pull-down menu. It might sound counter-productive, but this can inject colour casts into JPEGs as well as removing them.


How to recreate a golden hour: step 2

2 Use the dropper 
Normally you’d use the eye-dropper and click on a white, neutral grey or black point in the image  to remove a colour cast. Instead, click on a pale blue point to give a warm, golden cast to the shot.


How to recreate a golden hour: step 3

3 Colour variations
Also available from the Enhance>Adjust Colour menu, Colour Variations enables you to apply colour shifts selectively in midtones, shadows and highlights, as well as altering the overall saturation.


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  • jmeyer

    Sorry, we beg to disagree, Grasor. One hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise it will be pitch dark! To be more precise, though, the golden hours usually start around 15 minutes before sunrise, and it will last for around 15 minutes after sunset.