This week on Reel Rebel, Stephen Schweickart talks about and gives a brief review of the Golden Hour Calculator.  The Golden Hour Calculator is a cool and simple tool for videographers and photographers to use for planning video shoots at the optimal time in order to take advantage of the best outdoor lighting for your particular video shot.

The Golden Hour (Magic Hour) & Why is it Important?

The golden hour (a.k.a. the "magic hour") refers to optimal times in the day for shooting outdoors whereby the sun's natural light yields the softest and best quality light.  Typically, in the middle of the day, the sun's light creates bright highlights and dark shadows (harsh-lighting ~5500 K).  During the golden hours, the light is softer (~3500K) and warmer in hue with fewer or no dark shadows and highlights that are less likely to cause issues with overexposure.  Additionally, the warmer color of the low sun during the golden hour is can enhance the colors of the scene.

So, when is the golden hour? We'll that's the thing...  Hour is really determined by the altitude of the sun as well as the location and time of year but essentially, we're looking for the twilight hour.  For Southern California as an example, the golden hour occurs roughly an hour after sunrise and/or an hour before sunset.  However, that's the point of the Golden Hour calculator - let it do the work for you.

The Golden Hour Calculator App Review

The Golden Hour Calculator is available online for free or as a mobile app for iOS devices (only $5) and it's quite simple to use.

First off, the calculator will try to estimate your location.  If it is not exactly where you're shooting, you can navigate on the map or use the drop down menu to choose a location nearest to you..

Along the bottom the graph will show the sun's movement across the sky on that day.  Two yellow bars will appears on the graph indicating that days two golden hours.  If you put your cursor over either of the yellow bars you will get the exact time range the sun will be in the golden hour.

If you are planning a shoot days or even months in advance, this app has a feature where you can choose the exact day making it easier to plan your shoot date and time.

The Golden Hour Calculator App can be purchased for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc...) or accessed via Droid on the web at

Here's a question for you?  When is it appropriate to shoot outdoors whereby you're going for more harsh lighting from the sun?  IE - what types of videos, or what type of feel would you consider to lend itself well to shooting outdoors outside of the golden hour?