Fake Golden Hour: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace

Fake Golden Hour: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace

Hi everybody welcome to another episode
of Exploring Photography right here on Adorama TV I’m Mark Wallace and I’m
joined by Amy we are in Cape Town South Africa and Amy is a fantastic model and
I want to shoot some pictures of her next to this Lake here at the golden
hour. Unfortunately Amy can’t stick around that long she’s got places to be
and things to do and I’m supposed to be doing a meet up tonight and so we can’t
actually shoot at the golden hour but we can fake it and we’re going to fake it
using two things. The first is a variable neutral density filter on the end of my
lens now I did an episode about this with my niece in Cusco Peru about
shooting with the variable neutral density filter so you can shoot with a
wide open aperture. We’re going to shoot around f1.4, f22.8 something like that we
want this background to sort of go into that dreamy boca feel, sort of mushy feel
back there and focus all our attention on Amy, but what I also want, is I want it
to look like that the sun is low in the sky. Right now it’s not low in the sky.
It’s right now 1.20 in the afternoon and we have hard shadows, its melting our
eyes right now. it’s really nasty and so what we need to do is we need to take
that sun and make it lower in the sky and we’re going to do that by using a
studio strobe this is a Profoto B2 head and to make it look like it’s golden hour
I’m going to put a gel on that flash. This is a CTO gel that turns this into a
3200 Kelvin color temperature and so my camera is actually going to have its
white balance set to daylight but we’re going to be throwing tungsten colored
light onto the back of Amy’s head and all of that combined; the shallow
depth-of-field, the fake golden light, we’re going to do all of that we’re
going to get a lens flare by having this come in to our cameras lenses the angle
and we’re going to fake a golden hour shoot, so what we’re going to do now is
I’m going to throw this on to my studio head and Amy you can close your eyes
because I know it’s it is so bright out here and we’ve got a white building
behind us that you can’t see but yeah we’re crying because it’s so bright and
I need to walk you through how I’m metering all of this stuff. This strobe right here I just have it on
full power I’m just going to let it go and so it’s
going to throw this golden light onto the back of Amy’s hair and onto her
shoulders and it’s actually going to overexpose a little bit so we’re going
to get that. The other thing I’m doing is I’m going to try to expose for her face
but I’m actually going to overexpose just a tiny bit and so the way that I’m
doing that is I’m going to put my aperture on f2 I think I’ll start at f2.8
and then I’m just going to dial my variable neutral density filter so my
cameras built-in meter the TTL metering tells me that I’m just about a stop over
exposed maybe half a stop just slightly overexposed then that makes sure that we
have this angelic look on her face and the background is going to fall away so
that’s all there is to it. Neutral density filter, a CTO gel color
temperature orange, a good way to remember that nice strobe, full blast and
then we’re going to shoot into that light. Rght now going to start shooting let me
walk you through exactly what’s happening my lens is at f2.8, my
studio strobe is at full blast with the gel and so now the first thing I need to
do is focus on Amy and you can close your eyes if you need to. I want to make
sure that I get all my exposure and everything set and now I’m going to roll
my neutral density filter so I get that underexposed reading on the natural
light and voilà, we’re going to shoot just a couple more. Now the thing that’s
sort of interesting and difficult about this if I’m shooting at f2.8 or f1.2 notice
how Amy is moving about was just a little bit it’s really easy for things
to fall out of focus and so you might want to use a tripod and maybe get
something to lock your model down, if possible or use continuous autofocus if
you’ve got a camera that does that and so we’re going to shoot just a few more
and we’ll show you the results now the other thing to note is this right here
this light stand. I have to be really careful about my angle, because if I get it wrong
I’m going to have that light stand in the middle of the shot. I’ll have to
photoshop that out but if i do it just right I’ll still get the effects of the
light without having to worry about doing all that
post-production. Well we were able to shoot in the golden
hour even though it didn’t exist and Amy pointed out if you don’t have the light
that you want you can always make it if you have the proper tools and remember
we had a variable neutral density filter we had a just a normal orange gel on a
flash now I have to point out you can use just about any orange gel any kind
of gel that converts daylight to tungsten. That’s what this is and so you can have
something on a speedlight you have something on a studio strobe it doesn’t
really matter the point is to have something that throws that golden light.
Make sure it’s down low, so it comes in gives us a little bit of lens flare and
then you can have that amazing thing. The other thing that we had to battle with
on the front of Amy’s shoulders here if you move your hair just a little bit, we
were having light coming in from behind and it was giving away the illusion
of golden hour because the shadows weren’t matching what we were getting
with this, so just make sure you’re paying attention to the shadows that are
falling on your subject so that when you show that picture people don’t go that is not
golden hour, that’s something else. That’s all there is to it. Well thank you so much for joining us
don’t forget to check out the Adorama Learning Center,
it’s absolutely free and subscribe to Adorama TV
I did it did you do it? yeah you did.
Of course I did. Ok then we will see you
again next time.


  1. I'm not sure why he didn't just set the white balance to tungsten and not use a gel, that way he could get more power out of the flash head and have the ambient match. The resulting shot is unnatural and fake looking because of the mixed lighting. Also, using HSS instead of an ND filter could also be an option.

  2. Mark – Your model was a true professional for putting up with all the glare but still being able to focus on modeling.  Great shots and appreciate the tips.

  3. She is so beautiful. Nice to see a real natural beautiful girl without all the makeup.
    Do you have a twitter account to Amy so I can follow her?

  4. There is one slight error. Sun is not so high during the golden hour, so this setup might work on another planet, Mars maybe, but on Earth, we have sun located much closer to horison, during the gold hours 🙂

  5. Wow Cape Town already.. Are you going to be on your bike there also? BTW, great video tutorial…

  6. At 2:40 Mark says he wants it to overexpose by 1 stop (spot reading via the zone system for skin is how I would word it). But now at 3:25 Mark says he wants to underexpose the background by 1 stop. So which one is it Mark? You cant both +1 for skin and -1 for background.

  7. I would of taken the shot with a slightly faster shutter speed to darken the image. Just felt it was a little too bright for golden hour.

  8. Great tips and great shots Mark! Thanks so much.

    I was going to ask about using a speedlight and you answered that in the last few seconds.

    Hope you are enjoying your time in South Africa. Did you manage to get your bike shipped over there as well?

  9. The background is still daylight lit too and is noticeable. You might as well put a gel filter on the lens plus a graduated ND filter to darken the sky from white

  10. Nice tutorial .. beautiful place and what a lovely model you have there .. Amy is so cute !!! Lucky guy you are Mark 🙂 .

  11. She looks twice as beautiful when she smiles, why didn't you capture more of that? Golden smile during golden hour is golden!

  12. Cool and informative, but the same effect can be done easily in photoshop (especially if you need to fake something) – and will cost much less than bringing Profoto light on set.

  13. My understanding is that a variable neural density filter for a portrait shot is not a good idea as it's a polarizer and it can create plastic like skin textures. Is that incorrect? Should one use a variable ND or a standard ND when doing a portrait?

  14. Amy avoid checking out your photographer during shoot……. lol…hahahaha ….. you did that when Mark was standing close to you & pointing towards Sun…. after 55 second in this video…..

  15. I was at the Cape Town waterfront and saw this guy that just looked like Mark Wallace and now that I'm watching this tutorial it could have been you.Hoped you enjoyed your stay as it is my home town.Like your tutorials, stunning model too!!!

  16. I'm guessing significant post processing to lighten up the models face. Would a boom have helped somewhat with the stand problem? Thanks for the video

  17. If you are shooting portraits and not below waist then why was she bare foot? and you wear shoes.

  18. great videos.  could you please do a video ( or direct me to one if you've already done it) where you can explain how to meter light  when you're using high speed sync and everything is manual?

  19. I like most of their tutorials but this is just so fake. You can immediately tell that it was shot around noon and it's not even close to golden hour and the B2 definitely lacks the output to overpower the sun.

  20. Aimy was so beautiful she's really hot it matches golden hour….
    Won't forget these lesson…. Aimy angelic golden hours hahahaha lab u

  21. Why didn't you ask her to put shoes on, or put a towel on the deck for her to stand on??? Her feet are frying, thats why she cant stand still….

  22. Wallace are you using a reflector (Golden) for the face as well? because the light at the back would darken the face i.e if you are metering for the background but focusing on the face.

  23. Did you use any lighting to fill her face? Did you tweak it during post processing? I just bought a ND filter and I'm learning.

  24. Nah. A trained eye can see it's fake. The highlights on her hair were totally blown out. It made her pretty blonde hair a weird yellow. If you want to see how this should be done, Pye Jirsa has a tutorial on SRL lounge.

  25. The light is lemon coloured rather than gold. Also, the background looks a bit dark compared to the subject. Was there post-processing to lighten tbe subject?

  26. Not even close. When true golden hour, the sunlight completely fills out everying, and the color tones looks so warm.

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