There’s something special about the timing of golden hour; whether it’s enjoying a late evening hot spring soak, hiking a ridge as the sun crests, or sitting around a morning campfire drinking cowboy coffee. Golden hour has a way of highlighting the incredible canyon scenery and reminding us to slow down and treasure the little moments. For a photographer, these moments of golden zen are the ideal time to shoot. The opportunity to shoot the fleeting light can prove to be difficult, but with the correct settings, and a few tips to be aware of, you can get some beautiful shots of the Middle Fork Salmon River. Here are a few of our favorite golden hour pictures along with a description of we capture the moment.
Similar to shooting stars on the Middle Fork Salmon, it’s important to know your settings on your camera to properly capture a shot during golden hour. The F stop (aperture) is the key setting for golden hour. For landscape/canyon shots having the aperture wide open, ideally around 11, will allow you to keep the focus on the entire canyon, such as the one above. When shooting at a high F stop, there’s less light going through the lens. This picture was taking during the morning, so the golden light was getting brighter and brighter. This meant that instead of adjusting the F-stop to get more light into the camera, the photographer just had to wait until the light hit at just the perfect time.
Shooting golden hour during the evening requires the photographer to be adaptable to the changing light from dusk to dark. For many of these evening shots, it means shooting with either, a higher iso to articially brighten the photo, or a lower F-stop (aperture). With the lower F-stop you’re allowing more light through the camera, thus giving you more time to catch the magical moment.
Capturing sun rays or sun flares during golden hour is one of the most exciting shots to take, and also can be done with a variety of techniques. The simplest and often overlooked approach is by moving the angle of the camera and experimenting with different compositions. When you notice the sun flares, use anything around you to block part of the glare. Whether it’s a tree, canyon wall, person, or even a dutch oven, just be creative and move around.
Lastly, have fun, continue to experiment, and keep shooting. Capturing golden hour is an extraordinary way to experience the canyon, you will appreciate the nuances of the Middle Fork Salmon and will be inspired by the incredible landscapes.