Sun and the magic hour — two easy photography tips

If you like taking pictures at the sunset, I have two tips.

 

First - do it at the right time

In photography books, they call it "the magic hour". It happens two times a day, just before and after sunrise, and just before and after sunset.
The light during the magic hour is magic indeed. The word which is misleading in this term is an "hour".
It's much shorter than that, maybe five minutes or so, depending on the weather.
Let me illustrate.

A view at the city from above, Singapore
This first picture was taken at 7.15 P.M. Quite grey and boring. The sky was covered with a fog, so not even a lone cloud could make it more interesting.

 

A view at the city from above during the "magic hour", Singapore

That's the perfect time during today - 7.30 P.M.. The city lighted up with colors, the sky is dark blue, giving a nice shade to all of a scene.

 

A view at the city from above at dark night, Singapore
7.41 P.M., and the sky is already black like an abyss, robbing the scene of depth, acting like a visual and emotional press.

Just a few minutes, but the differences are vast.

 

Second - forget about the sun
Shooting directly at the sun setting down is great, but all the landscape is nearly black, with no details whatsoever. Besides, everybody is doing this, so there's a gazillion of identical pictures. Probably in your albums you have at least a few as well.

Relaxed family on beach during sunset, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Family on a beach enjoying the sunset

 

Turn around.
So that you are looking away from the sun.
Last rays of light are very soft and warm, casting long, nice shadows. Such a lighting makes practically any object stand out.

Even snapshots, like this, catch the attention and set a mood

Khmer spending last minutes of daylight in Koh Russei (Bamboo island), Cambodia
Spending last minutes of daylight