Tutorials |Recreate the golden hour using flash

HOW TO... Recreate the golden hour using flash

Pro photographer Paul Carroll explains how to recreate the golden hour using flash with a coloured gel

How to set-up Nikon DSLRs for wireless flash

What you'll need

  • A flashgun, strobe or studio light that you can use off-camera
  • An orange gel

Golden hour is the hour before sunset and after sunrise when the sun is low in the sky, casting a warm glow across the land. It’s a popular time for all sorts of photography, from landscapes to portraits. But you’re at the mercy of the weather and in the summer you have to get up very early (or stay out late) to catch it.

In the video below, professional photographer Paul Carroll explains how using an orange gel, or even a few sweet wrappers on a flash can enable you to recreate the warm glow of the golden hour.

Scroll down for a step-by-step summary.

Paul is Nikon user and he uses Nikon SB-5000 flashguns, however, you can use any flashgun, strobe or studio light as long as you can fire it off-camera. 

Ideally, the flash should be connected to the camera wirelessly, but you can also use a cable.

01 Attach the gel

If your flash was supplied with a clip-on coloured gel attach it now. Alternatively, you can use a third party coloured gel or a few translucent sweet wrapper.s

02 Position the flash

You can shoot with just one flash, either in front or behind the subject depending upon the effect that you want to achieve.

For his portrait, Paul used two lights, one behind his subject and the other in front. The front light had a softbox fitted to diffuse the light, making the shadows and highlights less harsh. The rear light had no modifier fitted other than the orange gel.

03 Set the exposure

If you want to use a wide aperture to blur the background, you need to keep an eye on the shutter speed and ensure that it stays within your camera’s and flash’s sync speed. Setting a low sensitivity (ISO) setting will help with this, but if necessary fit a neutral density filter over the lens to reduce the amount of light reaching the camera’s sensor.

Adjust the flash exposure compensation as necessary to get the result you want. this is a case of trial and error, but Paul set both of his speedlights in the portrait shoot to +1Ev.

04 Set the white balance

Use your camera’s Kelvin white balance setting and set a value of around 6000K or more. This will warm the image and emphasise the golden glow from the flash.

Visit Paul Carroll’s website
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