FAQ: Golden Light!

Willy Wonka says it best:

"So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it."

So many things to do. I really honestly think I could spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just working on the business things I need/want to do. Don't mind friends, family and God! In order to not be a jerk and ignore e-mails, I'm going to do what many other photographers have realized is helpful.
FAQ blog posts.
If you have ever asked me a photography question, and it's disappeared into an abyss, I'm so sorry.

Recently I've had lots of similar questions in my inbox, so I'm going to answer the main ones!

If you have any questions for me, feel free to leave a comment! I'll answer them as often as I can :D

Today is "golden sunshine day!"
Today I'll use an e-mail I got from a sweetie named Ashley:
"This may seem like a silly question, but I've noticed in your latest photos, especially of Scott & Grace, a specific effect that I've been aching to achieve in my own photos. The photos have a beautiful hazy gold quality to many of them.

I'm not sure if it's a camera setting or a Photoshop setting, or if the days were just especially golden, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask your secret!"

First of all, not silly question.
Second, I think its a combination of all those things! Camera settings, editing and, most importantly, time of day!

I shot Grace and Scott's portraits at about 5:30 pm. The sun was harsher than I would have liked, but it was still pretty good. And I always shoot fully manual (Don't be afraid of it! You can do it!)

This is straight out of camera (sooc) with my 50 1.2 lens shot at 1/2000 sec at f/1.2 with the ISO at 100. I had my lens hood on, as well as my hand up "shielding" the sun from the lens so that it didn't end up super bright (I'll elaborate on that in the next set of pictures.)

I always "batch edit" in Lightroom to get the pictures just right. SooC this picture was a little dark and the colors weren't popping. With basic editing (exposure: + .17, contrast +20, clarity 25, warming +6) I get a lovely picture! Some may even prefer this to my "final cut" which is below. But thanks to Lightroom's Sync feature, I can make all the shots in the specific location look just like this with one click! Holler!

But I want to kick it up just one more notch for the blog. I love the film, antique-y, almost magical look I can get with fine-tuning things in Photoshop. Sooo, for this one I used some Totally Rad actions (Flare-up Golden at 70%, Fade Winter 40%, Yin-Yang at 80% on bottom of picture and dress, and Can-o-whoop at 60% in the trees) with some Magic Sharp, of course :D


For Fay and Andy, we had the delicious actually golden light at 6:30 pm. As you can see in this sooc, it's extremely bright. I didn't put my hand up to shield from the sun and it was so bright that I had to only use my histogram to make sure I was metering at least decently :D
(specs: 50 mm 1.2 shot at 1/5000 sec at f/1.2 ISO 500 [shoulda been lower though. wups!])

The hardest part about shooting into the sun is getting the focus right (at least for me haha but maybe I'm just really bad at this.)
I have to take soooo many pictures, especially at f/1.2 to get it right. I just kept focusing on Fay's face and it turned quite good! The basic Lightroom edit for this is: Exposure -.75, Contrast +25, Blacks 40, Clarity 25, Vibrance 26.

Taken into Photoshop with some Antique Tone (75%), Oh Snap! (80%), Flare-up Golden (50%) and Can-o-whoop at 65%. Oh, and Magic Sharp, of course :D

So that's how I "get" that golden light. Shooting into God's sunshine and making it look like my style in post-processing :D

Since we began with Wonka, lets end with him too:

"No, no, don't speak. For some moments in life there are no words."


  1. YaY, YaY, YaY, YAY!!!!!

    I am so very happy that you have started doing this :)

    You are like in my top 3 favorite photog's EVER, and I especially love the way you use light! So, to be able to learn what you do to get your pics to turn out the way they do is super super amazing . . .

    Thanks so much for taking the time to do this and I can't wait for another one!

    God bless!

  2. Thanks so much, Kristen!!! I absolutely LOVE your pictures!!! Thanks for taking the time to show all of us that want to be just like you!! :)

    I've got a question for ya:
    How do you get the skin so smooth, and such a nice creamy color, and at the same time have the other colors so vibrant? Is that a Totally Rad action too?

    Thanks...keep up the awesome work!!

  3. awesome! thanks kristen.

  4. Hi Kristen,

    I sent you a e-mail while back, but glad I can ask you again! I currently have the Canon Rebel xTi with the 50 mm lens. What lens is the next best one to buy? I don't shoot weddings, only seniors, families, etc.

    Thanks for doing this!

  5. This is great advice!! I could learn so much from you!! These pictures are lovely...

  6. Love that golden hour! =) Thanks for sharing your secrets!

    Love Love Love!

  7. Oh thank you soooooooooooo very very very much for taking your time to do this! I love this idea so much, and it's really going to help me! 8)

  8. The 50 1.2 is one of my favorite lenses. Welcome to Canon my friend =)

  9. Thanks for all the FAQs! Always interesting and helpful to know what other peeps do to get their look! Awesome pics, BTW!


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