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2 Top Tips to Capture Golden Hour Photographs & Process Them Effectively

We love taking advantage of  golden hour light which we get in the spring/summer time.

It is a great way to create some relaxing, summery evening photographs.

Although, it can be pretty challenging to get the photographs to look right, the tricky part of this photography is getting the focus right along with the exposure and good processing.

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Last Momments of Sunshine

How To Get Good Focus

To get the right light, the way I angle my camera, I let in a lot of the sun rays. The sun-rays hit my lens almost directly, so when I look through my camera, I am overwhelmed by, very simply, blinding sun light.

This doesn’t hurt my eyes, but it does make auto-focusing almost impossible as the lens attempts to focus on the sun-rays, which leaves the subject (model) out of focus. So, not ideal!

Instead of auto-focus, I use manual-focus (MF). This means I have control over the focusing, however as I said, the blinding sun-rays do make it very difficult to see anything. Therefore manual-focus can be difficult as you cannot be 100% sure whether the subject is in focus 100%.

So, a lot of fiddling is required when it comes to getting good focus. 

Embracing the Sun - Day 25/365

How To Correct Exposure

Assuming I have the focus correct, the next challenge is the exposure.

When I take a few test-shots to see how the exposure looks (remember I only use manual – so I manually set the settings on my DSLR, such as Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO and White Balance) my immediate reaction is to correct the exposure, because it  is almost always over-exposed.

However, strangely enough this is exactly what you want. But you also want to be careful you’re not overexposing too much.

Important note: if you’re photographing in these sorts of situations then your photograph will look over-exposed, your challenge is finding the balance between good over-exposure and bad over-exposure.

The Last 2013 Jump - Day 171/365

Processing Sun Flare Photographs

Once you’ve worked out how to get the correct focus, and the tricky balance of exposure, then you’ll find taking these sorts of photographs so much easier.

However, how do you process these photographs? Normal processing usually falls totally flat – the colours are all wrong and I’ve been frustrated one too many times… so needless to say I’ve found some great techniques and now find processing very easy!

Here is a list of my favourite Lightroom Presets to process sun flare photographs with:-

Rainbow Colours Lightroom Preset

Whipped Cream Lightroom Preset (this is also available for Photoshop CS2+ here.)

Natural Colours Lightroom Preset 

These presets are designed to save you hours of time editing – but at the same time, guarantee you get the results that you would get had you spent hours of your time processing the photographs. With these processing techniques you will get the photographs perfectly processed.

It may sound difficult, which it can be, but it will get easier the more you try and the more you practice. 🙂

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About the author

Olivia L'Estrange-Bell

Olivia L'Estrange-Bell - English, 23yrs. Entrepreneur. Digital Products. Photographs for License. Fund Raising


  • Hi Olivia,
    I think your posts are very interesting, congratulations.
    I have a doubt in this post, about the focus, what do you mean by this phrase “So, a lot of fiddling is required When It Comes to getting good focus.”
    I speak little English and did not understand.
    Thanks and once again Congratulations.

    • Hi Gloria, thanks for your comment. Basically what I mean is – it is not easy to get it right away. But if you keep trying, then suddenly you get it. Do not just try a few times – try maybe 10-15 times and then you will definitely get results. 🙂 Hope this makes sense or translates better for you. 🙂

      • now I understand, thank’s Olivia, you’re great.

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