The 15 magical minutes in landscape photography

The golden hour

"We have 15 minutes. After that, it will be too late: we will pack our photo equipment and tripods." We have said this sentence hundreds of times. We have waited for this moment for days sometimes. It has a different name in different countries. In English, it’s called the "golden hour". French photographers call it the "magic moment,” "quarter hour of truth,” or "magical quarter hour." But what exactly is it? Is it a reality or a myth created by landscape photographers?

The magical morning moment.

The magical morning moment.

It is a reality

During our travel photography workshops, we must invariably answer these questions. Our response is as invariable. The "golden hour" exists; it is a reality that we must always be prepared for. Unfortunately, it is not predictable. Sometimes you have to wait days before all the conditions are ideal. It varies according to the region of the world. But one thing is absolutely certain: it is the best time of the day to take landscape photographs. This does not mean that the photos made at other times of the day are bad, but they will certainly suffer by comparison.

A unique moment in the morning

The golden hour occurs at dawn. It begins a few minutes before sunrise and continues for a few minutes afterwards. The first prerequisite is to have a good sunrise. A few minutes before the sun appears on the horizon, the sky begins to blush with color. The first fingers of golden light just barely touch the landscape. Its colors shine out brilliantly. The higher the sun rises, the more brilliant and rich the colors. This only lasts for a few minutes while the sun is very low in the sky. Soon, the sun has risen higher, and the rays of light no longer come in at the same angle. The light becomes too intense. The colors return to normal. The magic moment is over.

The magical morning moment.

The magical morning moment.

Whatever the season

For us, the best characteristic of the golden hour is that brings out the color tones of the season.  In winter, it shows up cold, blue tones. Spring is the season of soft, fragile colors. Summer is the season for warm, orange-red tones. Fall is an exceptional season for sunsets.
While photos taken at dusk are often very richly colored, they often remain in warm tones. It is very difficult to have cool tones except after a heavy rain or some other intense storm, when the air has been washed clean. Then, the light is refracted differently. But these conditions are relatively rare in the evening. For this reason, the magic hour usually occurs in the morning, although the evening is still an excellent time take pictures of landscapes which consist largely of rock, such as those found in the western United States. We believe that this phenomenon is due to the fact that the earth's atmosphere is much warmer than it is in the morning.

A very special moment

The golden hour is not a myth but a reality. It is a fleeting moment that only happens in the morning. It begins before sunrise. It is never guaranteed to happen. However, photographers must always be present so as not to miss it. When you have the chance to take pictures at this moment, it is a really wonderful experience because the color and lighting are perfect. You must be patient and work to find the best vantage points from which to view the landscape. It is a real challenge. But the satisfaction of preserving the ephemeral beauty of the golden hour is more than worth it.

The magical morning moment.

The magical morning moment.

The magical morning moment.

The magical morning moment.


If you like this chronicle, please feel free to leave us a comment using the form at the bottom of the page or sharing it via social networks.

All 100 comments, we make a draw of best text and send a beautiful book as a gift.

By subscribing to our newsletter, you will receive news of our site once a month.


Spaces are available for these photo trips

Wildlife photo workshop dedicated to the bellowing of the red deer stag - September 2018
Tuesday 07 June 2016 Photo workshops - far adventures

Wildlife photography workshop — bellowing red deer stags. Fall 2018

Photographing bellowing red deer stags in France - September 2018 If you are a wildlife photographer who loves photographing animals in their natural environment, if you want to discover new horizons and photograph new species, and if you want to gain new technical knowledge, then join us for a…
Wildlife photo workshop from floating blinds in France - July 2018
Tuesday 06 June 2017 Photo workshops - far adventures

Wildlife photo workshop from floating blind in France - July 2018

Photographing birds from floating blinds: a wildlife photo workshop in La Dombes, France in July 2018 From June 30 to July 10, 2018, we will teach a wildlife photography workshop about photographing birds from floating blinds in the marshes of La Dombes. La Dombes is a swampy area northeast of…



Do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter



Contact us



Website Updates

We continually update our website with new and exciting features! As professional photographers of wildlife, underwater scenes, and landscapes, this mainly pertains to information about our work, as well as adventures we embark upon. Our professional photography blog is particularly written for photographers who are interested in discovering innovative doors of creativity through the medium of nature photography.



Amar and Isabelle Guillen. Professional Photographers of nature.

We are fascinated and passionate about the beauties of nature. We love to see the landscapes and observe wild animals whether on land or underwater. We have chosen to become professional photographers to share the emotions we feel when we observe nature whether it be on land or underwater. Our goal is to create art with our photographs. We always try to transform the banal into a contemplative and artistic interpretation.

We are wildlife professional photographers, landscape professional photographers and underwater professional photographers. We also strive to document nature with a focus on conservation and education.

We make art prints from our artistic photographs. These art prints are available on our website. We make exhibitions to show all the beauties and the incredible richness of nature that surrounds us.

We also love to share our love for the beauties of nature with other photographers. To communicate our know-how and to exchange our techniques and our points of view, we organize wildlife photography workshops, underwater photography workshops and landscape photography workshops. We gather together people who have the same passion as us for the beautiful photographs taken in nature.

  • No comments found

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

Sign up for the newsletter

Sign up for our mailing list to receive information news about our website and trips.

This information is confidential and will never be released.