How to Plan for Optimal Outdoor Lighting: The Golden Hour Calculator Review [Reel Rebel #15]

How to Plan for Optimal Outdoor Lighting: The Golden Hour Calculator Review [Reel Rebel #15]

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

How to Plan for Optimal Outdoor Lighting: The Golden Hour Calculator Review [Reel Rebel #15]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 http://www.golden-hour.com/.

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?

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View The Full Video Transcript:

Hey, I’m Stephen Schweickart with VScreen where we make videos for companies and today we’re going to be talking about the Golden Hour Calculator.

We keep telling you to shoot your exterior footage at Golden Hour. Golden Hour this, Golden Hour that, shoot at Golden Hour or you footage will look like crap! It won’t, but you can take advantage of the natural beauty of the sun’s light by shooting at specific times of day that yield the softest, and some might say best, quality of that light. And the absolute easiest way to plan your shoots is to use the Golden Hour Calculator by Roger Moffatt.

The website takes all the guesswork out of it for you. You don’t need go to weather.com to look up the sunrise info, just go to golden-hour.com and all the work is done. The site will take a guess at your location, but if it’s not right, simply navigate around the map, or use the dropdown menu on the right to select the closest location to you and the information will adjust automatically. If you don’t know where you live or where you’re at, it sounds like a personal problem and I can’t help you.

The graph at the bottom charts the sun’s movement across the sky, and therefore will show you exactly when golden hour is. Two yellow bars appear on the graph which indicate the two golden hours you have to film during each day. Simply mouse over either one and it will tell you exactly when the sun is in the optimal position to get that beautiful light working for your photography or video. It’s so easy even I could do it, and I generally have no idea what’s going on in life.

Sure, finding the daily sunrise and sunset and adding or subtracting an hour might get you close, but what if you’re trying to plan a shoot that is months out? GHC has you covered. The squares at the bottom of the page indicate dates in calendar form. All you have to do is click the desired date and BLAMMO, VOILA, CHING CHANG, the graph adjusts and you’re free to schedule your shoots. It’s also really interesting to compare the lengths of a day as the seasons change, so don’t get distracted!

And for you iPhone users out there, there’s even an app you can pick up for 5 bucks so you can have it on the go with you wherever you are. Android users are stuck navigating to the site in their browser, but hey, it saves you the money and it works just fine.

The Golden Hour Calculator is the easiest way to set up shoots if you’re looking to get yourself some beautiful exterior or outdoor shots. But hey, don’t take my word for it, head over to golden dash hour dot com and check it out for yourself. It’s really simple, but may be one of the most useful tools you find.

About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

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