The Golden Hour

The golden hour, Dörflingen, Switzerland, 18 December 2010 (photo by Hansueli Krapf from Wikimedia Commons)

22 December 2011

Today is the southern solstice, the day of shortest sunlight in the northern hemisphere and the longest golden hours.

In photography, the golden hour is the period just after sunrise and just before sunset when the sun is low in the sky.  In that position it passes through more of the earth’s atmosphere so its light is reddish and diffuse and the shadows are long.

I learned about the golden hour when I looked up the time for sunrise and found additional information. Though there are many definitions for it the most common is that the golden hour ends when the sun is more than 6 degrees above the horizon.

Today in Pittsburgh the sun will rise at 7:40am and set at 4:57pm for 9 hours 17 minutes of daylight.  In the morning the sun will be low in the sky until 8:23am. In the afternoon it will reach the golden hour at 4:13pm for a total of 97 minutes of golden light.  This would be lovely but we’ll never see it.  The sky is overcast.

The golden hour is more pronounced the further north you go.

In Helsinki, Finland the sun rose at 9:24am and will set at 3:13pm for only 5 hours and 49 minutes of daylight.  Most of the time the sun will just skim the horizon producing two very long golden hours.  In fact they’ll have only 80 minutes of real “day” when the sun’s above 6o.

After the solstice the days will get longer and the golden hours shorter.

Don’t miss today’s golden light.  For the best photographic effects, try Helsinki.

(photo by Hansueli Krapf  on Wikimedia Commons.  Click on the photo to see the original.)

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