I took a trip down to Arizona to team up with our good friends at MagMod to come up with a fun tutorial to mimic the sun with off-camera flash. Although we have taught a similar tutorial in the past on how to re-create golden hour, this scene is a bit different and you’ll definitely walk away with a few new ideas. Watch the full tutorial here:

In this scene, the sun was going in and out of the clouds making it hard to create a consistent set of images that looked cohesive. So, instead, I decided to use my off-camera flash to ensure I get that golden light in each and every single shot. Let’s walk through some tips on how to achieve this look:

1. Have the Right Amount of Flash Power & Accurate Color

Here is the gear you’ll need to re-create golden hour lighting:

  • 200-400 Ws of Flash Power: the sun is too large a source of light to replicate, but you can get close enough depending on your composition to emulate it. You’ll need plenty of power to get a nice even spread of light. For this tutorial, we are using 2 Godox AD200s.
  • CTO Gels: in order to mimic sunlight you’ll need your flash to match the color of the light emitted from the sun. I love using MagGels on my speedlights because it’s a fast and simple solution to switch the color of my light.

2. Place Flash Far Behind the Subject(s)

magmod lighting tutorials
You can see that the light is placed to camera left about 30-50ft behind the couple.

Get your flash far enough back that it’s hitting everything that you’re capturing within the frame. This is probably the most common mistake photographers are making when they try this technique because they bring the flash too close and you’re not covering the entire environment like the sun would.

3. Decide on your Composition and Shoot!

We discuss in Lighting 3 how important it is to decide on the intention of your image and your lighting using an acronym called C.A.M.P:

  • Composition: What do we want our scene to look like? Where do we want the camera to be? What’s the angle? What do we want our subjects to be doing?
  • Ambient Light Exposure: Choose the intention of the scene. Do we want a dramatic image (darkening the ambient light and using more flash) or do we want a softer image (brightening the ambient light and using a more natural power of flash)?
  • Modify/Add Light: Are your subjects visible in the frame or do they need to be chiseled out? Do you need to add an additional light source?
  • Pose & Photograph: Take your shot!

For this lighting technique to work we need to make sure that the light is convincingly being used to re-create the sun. I chose to get a little lower to avoid seeing the flash in all of my shots or worry about concealing it, in addition, I used the foreground of the nature between me and the subjects to create depth and separation. Our camera settings for this shot are: 1/500th of a second, ISO 100, f/2.0. Here is the final image:

re creating golden hour
Using 2 AD200s and 2 CTO MagGels to re-create the sun.

Make sure you check out MagMod’s biggest sale of the year this upcoming week for Black Friday! If you try this technique out make sure you share your results with us in our Master Lighting & Off-Camera Flash Facebook Group. If you enjoyed this tutorial then you should also check out our Lighting 4 course which dives deep into creating natural light effects using flash – this is an advanced lighting course that is fully comprehensive and will give you 20+ different, unique lighting recipes.