How to Create the Golden Hour with Artificial Light

If your bride wants photos in the golden light before sunset then there’s very little that you can do but comply. However, things never quite go as per plan at a wedding. They can go behind schedule tossing all your plans out of the window, making you look bad. However, if you’re a photographer who understands lighting you can conjure up some magic to salvage the moment. At a recent wedding shoot, Pye Jirsa did exactly that; he created artificial golden light:

What is the golden hour?

The golden hour is that time of the day when the sun is low on the horizon. As a result, the light source becomes larger and more flattering. At the same time the color changes to this beautiful golden yellow tone that every photographer digs.

advantages to shooting in golden light

Golden light has the power to transform good images to great images.

This light works amazingly well for a wide variety of photography genres. No wonder every client wants to have their pictures taken at this time of the day.

But what if you miss the golden hour?

“You can still get great imagery, don’t get me wrong. But you won’t get that golden hour sun-kissed look that so many brides are after.”

shooting in golden light

Without golden hour light your images lack the wow factor.

“So what do you do when you are in a situation where you have no sun?” – recreate the sun of course!

How to Recreate the Golden Hour with Strobes

  1. Use a powerful light. Pye used a Profoto B1 to recreate the sun.
  2. Move the light as far as you can from your subject. Pye moved the Profoto B1 several hundred feet in the general direction where the sun would be setting. The idea was to have the light spread across the scene as natural sunlight would.
  3.  Gel the light. Pye used two CTO gels stacked together. This produced an extremely warm light convincingly close to the golden hour sunlight.

Gear and Camera Settings

Apart from the Profoto B1’s Pye used a Canon 5D Mark III and a 70-200mm lens.

He used these settings:

  •  1/200 second
  •  f/2.8
  • ISO 1600

His results?

artificial golden light
using a strobe to produce golden light

Pretty convincing!

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