Magic Hour

magic hour by Neil Krug

In photography and cinematography, the golden or magic hour, is the first and last hour of sunlight during the day, when a specific photographic effect is achieved due to the quality of the light. Typically, lighting is softer (more diffuse) and warmer in hue. When the Sun is near the horizon, sunlight travels through more of the atmosphere, reducing the intensity of the direct light, so that more of the illumination comes from indirect light from the sky.

More blue light is scattered, so that light from the Sun appears more reddish. In addition, the Sun’s small angle with the horizon produces longer shadows. In the middle of the day, the bright overhead Sun can create too-bright highlights and dark shadows. Because the contrast is less during the golden hour, shadows are less dark, and highlights are less likely to be overexposed.

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