Golden Hour (or magic hour) is a term often used in photography, that denotes the first and last hour of sunlight during the day, when a special quality of light is available and which gives an exceptionally beautiful effect to photos shot in that warm light. There is no precise definition as to when exactly the Golden Hour starts. Some consider it the time when the sun is near but above the horizon, while some others believe the Golden Hour starts when the sun goes below the horizon and lasts till darkness.
A photo taken during the Golden Hour
The actual time of Golden Hour varies from place to place and all throughout the year. The soft, warm hue of the sunlight typical during the Golden Hour is determined by the sun’s altitude. And the time the sun takes to reach a particular altitude depends on the location of the place (latitude) and the time of the year.
Taking all these factors into consideration, some good folks have created a Golden Hour Calculator that allows any person anywhere on Earth to determine when they can expect the Golden Hour to start at any place on Earth. For the sake of uniformity, the calculator considers Golden Hour as the period when the sun lies between 6 degrees below the horizon and 6 degrees above.
When you visit the Golden Hour Calculator, the website gets your IP address and determines your location by Geolocation and automatically calculates the sunrise and sunset times, the elevation and azimuth of the sun and the golden hour. IP-geolocating, however, isn’t accurate, so you might have to choose your correct location from the map. Using the mouse wheel you can zoom in and out of the map to pick your exact spot.
As you can see from the image above, the calculator displays the estimated altitude of the sun at your location during a complete 24 hour period. Hovering the mouse over each sun position tells you the elevation and azimuth. The day is indicated by the light blue region and the night by the dark blue region. The yellow bars overlaying the blue region indicates the Golden Hour. The various times of the day – sunrise, sunset, time of maximum altitude etc are available both at local times as well as at Universal Time.
The grid under the blue region is the calendar, where each square represents a particular day of the year. When you click on any day it recalculates and displays the Golden Hour and other time information for that day. The calendar also displays the days of full moon and new moon. A few International holidays like Christmas and Easter are thrown into it as well.
Be aware that the calculator determines the various timings at sea level. If your location is higher than the sea level (most places are) and if there are hills around your times will vary.
Also see: Camera Simulator