Finding the golden hour | 14 July, 2017


Sunrise_Wanstead_London_Neil Perry

As much as I proclaim that technology and gadgets don’t own my life, I’m slowly coming to accept that they really do. I love my Bluetooth speaker that sits on my desk and connects to my iPhone and Mac without needing horribly-cluttering wires. I love the internet and all the information, inspiration and entertainment it provides. I love my awesome lawn mower. I love my electric toothbrush. I love my NutriBullet juicer.

And I love apps. I’ve got apps for everything and I’ll regularly go through them, analysing their eventual use to me and culling any that haven’t cemented themselves into my daily life.

The latest app that I’ve become addicted to is Golden Hour One. It’s listed on Apple’s App Store as “Weather for photographers”. I was sceptical at first because there are all sorts of poor quality apps claiming to be the next best tool for photographers.

And while Golden Hour One isn’t a full weather app, it does give photographers everything they need to know about shooting in the morning and evening – the traditional ‘golden hours’.

The Clock section, which can be toggled between sunrise and sunset, displays a 24-hour clock and uses graphic overlays to show when the ‘golden hour’ and ‘blue hour’ will occur. The precise times are also shown.

The Map section takes your GPS position and again uses graphic overlays to display the Sun’s position in relation to yours during golden and blue hours.

The Weather section is my favourite. Displaying information for both morning and evening, you can toggle between ‘Sky index’ and ‘Light index’. Sky index tells you what the sky will be like for a particular time of the day and whether it’s worth venturing out – it also provides a handy ‘out of 10’ ranking.

Light index ranks the quality of light and tells you whether it’s a good opportunity to shoot in golden and blue hour. Again, there’s a handy ‘out of 10’ ranking. The app also lets you set reminders and alarms which are definitely useful. Have a look at the screenshots below.

Yesterday I discovered a perfect ranking for the sky and light this morning. So I decided to put the app to the test. I hastily thought of somewhere local (walking distance!) from where I could get a good view of the sky, and set out at 4am – according to the app, blue hour was due to start at 4.21am.

There’s a footbridge about a 10 minute walk from my house which crosses the A12 as it heads downhill. I decided to head there as it was close and got me higher up. And, due to the downward slope it crossed, it also ensured I was above the street lights (crucially) and the residential areas in the direction of the sunrise.

I’m pleased to say that the little early morning jaunt was completely worth it – the app was spot on. The sky index was correct in that there were some low clouds, which gave photos a bit of interest. The light index was also correct in that the sunrise was stunning and clear. The times were also pretty accurate – everything ‘happened’ within a few minutes of the app’s information.

This is one app that has very quickly established a permanent place for itself on my phone – I’ve even moved it to the first screen. Previously, I was using an app called Clear Skies and while that was good for spotting the International Space Station (it has an ISS feature), it was a bit too complex for planning morning and evening shoots. Golden Hour One has everything I need. I’d recommend it – find it here.

Some of the better shots from this morning are below.