Golden Light: What to look out for

Johan van Zyl All Authors, Johan 2 Comments

Whether you’ve been photographing for many years or just purchased a new camera, golden light is something that we’ve either heard about or seen in different images.  We are always advised to keep the sun behind us, but here are a few things to look out for when presented with that beautiful golden light.


Personally, this is one of my favourite ways to photograph.  With these types of images you sacrifice some of the detail in your subject by underexposing to get the outline or shape of your subject.  Subjects which possess more fur work best in these situations.  Subjects like Male Lions, Vervet Monkeys, Baboons, Waterbuck etc will give you the best results.


Dust and Golden light go hand in hand.  If the opportunity presents itself, shooting into the sun with dust will illuminate the dust ever more, creating very dramatic images.  Look around waterholes, especially late afternoon, this is often the best chance to see Elephants having a dust bath.  Zebras and various Antelope species will also roll in the sand, often kicking up dust.  One can see bare open patches which are used regularly by these animals.


The one thing that stands out about photographing during golden light are the colours.  The beautiful oranges are what you want to preserve.  In general as a rule of thumb, underexpose a bit to preserve those colours.


It is not always possible, but if you know of a potential sighting, try and get there early.  By spending time in a sighting before the light is at its best, you will give yourself the best opportunity to create striking images.  The initial excitement would have worn off and your creative voice will start taking over.  By looking at the behaviour of your subject, you will also be able to guess (and it always will be that) in which direction it might move.  With the light dropping you will immediately have images with a different feel to each of them.

Happy snapping and as always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to give us a shout.

Till next time


About the Author

Johan van Zyl


The opportunity of visiting some of the wildest, undisturbed areas and sharing my passion for wildlife, conservation and photography with like minded people is a privilege that I am forever grateful.

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