10 Tips & Tricks for Capturing the Magic Hour

By Severin - 7 min read

The magic hour creates soft and warm light, which can turn practically anything into a beautiful photograph.

eye4photography at Luna Park by Simodenegri on EyeEm

The magic hour (also known as golden hour) describes the first and last hour of sunlight during the day. It makes the light soft and warm and can turn practically anything into a beautiful photograph without using any filter. We’ve put together 10 handy tips & tricks to get you started.

For inspiration we recommend checking out the albums magic hour, golden hour, sunset and silhouette.

Now here we go:

1. Work those silhouettes

The fading sun is perfect for creating silhouettes of people, objects and landmarks. Face the sun, look for a nice colorful backdrop (sometimes keeping the sun just out of the frame) and then try to incorporate interesting silhouettes into the foreground, which adds a graphic element to the image.

golden moment in Yogyakarta by Bimo Pradityo on EyeEm

2. Expose for highlights

Make sure to expose for highlights during golden hour as the directional light can sometimes make it difficult to retain the bright areas. This can be done with EyeEm by touch-exposing for the lightest/brightest part of the photograph.

Arrived in Derby by Misho Baranovic on EyeEm

3. Use your sunglasses to make your own neutral density filter

A ND filter is a filter you put in front of your lens to reduce the intensity of wavelengths and colors, thereby giving you more flexibility in very bright light settings. Just hold your sunglasses (best with Polaroid lenses) in front of your lens and you’ll capture the natural colors much better against the sunlight.

sea at Macara Club by Στράτος Ναούμ on EyeEm

4. Shoot with the sun, not against it

If you’re not facing directly towards the sun, look for subjects that are standing “in the spotlight” of this rich warm light. You’ll get beautiful warm shots that don’t need any more filters to look awesome.

Magic hourbyNick JacksononEyeEm

5. Play with shadows

The last hour of sunlight during the day gives you the longest shadows you can possibly think of. Look out for them and play around with interesting compositions.

Taking Photos at Schloß Schönbrunn by Severin on EyeEm

6. Dare to shoot black & white

A sunset is a thing of beauty and color but don’t be afraid to turn it black & white for a dramatic effect. Use the kCe filter to push the tones even more or go all classy with the Gundlach filter.

blackandwhite at maldives by shynee on EyeEm

7. Use clouds for dramatic effects

Watch for interesting clouds when the sun is setting. These will add a dramatic, often multicoloured backdrop to your golden hour photos.

streetphotography at Moreland Road by Misho Baranovic on EyeEm

8. Shoot people in the scenery

The magic hour is a particularly good time to shoot people in context of the scenery. The last moments of the sweetest light tends to come along with people shedding their day jobs and shifting into their true selves. It’s great for travel imagery.

shootermag by Jen Pollack Bianco on EyeEm

9. Underexpose

Keep your colors rich and silhouettes black by stepping down your exposure by 1 or 2 stops. This is great for landscapes and big sceneries. Use ProCamera or Camera+ to control your exposure and try out the Golden Hour App (for Android & iOS) to calculate the best sunlight for your shoots.


10. Play with sun flares

Since the sun is near to the horizon it is easy to play around with sun flares. You can position the sun between 2 striking objects, behind leafs or branches, a person or even at the edge of your camera.

Priceless at Piha BeachbyzanthiaonEyeEm

Thanks to EyeEm AmbassadorsLazyLife,Colin Cornwall,Michael Baranovic,Jen Pollack Bianco,Andre Pinto,Josh St. Germain and Chris Zielecki for the inspiration!

Got any other tips for capturing that magic light?Let us know in the comments below!

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