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.
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.
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.
How to recreate a golden hour
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.
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.
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.
The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)
10 quick landscape photography tips
Creative landscape photography: master the dark art of shadows and shade
The landscape photographer’s guide to shooting anywhere: free photography cheat sheet