A few weeks back I talked a bit about utilizing the golden hour—that is, the hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise—to shoot stunning portraits. While that still holds true, the golden hour is great for much more than just portrait photography. This is good news if you’re just starting out and you’re afraid to go out and capture human subjects.
I took the following photos on Purdue’s campus shortly before sunset. Notice that there are three basic categories of golden hour shots: One, the subject is brilliantly bathed in golden sunlight. Two, the subject has strong, contrasting shadows cast upon it. And finally, three, the subject is completely shaded and subsequently has very soft edges and shadows.
These concepts are simple to grasp, and even more simple to experiment with, which is great because they apply equally whether you are shooting a brick building or a professional model.