Say you want to capture golden hour lighting but you just missed the sunset or the clouds showed up uninvited. Not to worry. All you need is a simple flash to bring the sun back and I’ll show you how in 5 simple steps.

Video: How to Use Flash to Create Your Own Golden Hour Lighting

This golden hour lighting tutorial is a part of our Advanced Lighting Course on SLR Lounge Premium. To explore a whole new world of photography using flash, be sure to check it out! Let’s dive right in.

Step #1: Visualize the Scene

Notice that the existing light is coming from behind the couple.

Find your composition based on the lighting. The key for realism is to position the flash where the sun would actually be. Notice in this scene that even though there’s no sunlight, since it’s later in the day, the existing light is coming from behind.

Step #2: Set Up Your Flash

I recommend a medium-high powered flash. Since we’re mimicking the sun, we’re going to need a lot of light. I’m using the Godox AD200 with CTO Gels to match the true look of golden hour lighting. The entire set up is mounted on a stand using the MagMod MagShoe and MagMod MagRing.

Step #3: Position Your Flash

To mimic true golden hour lighting, place the light far enough in the background that the light covers the entire background. You can see here that I raised the light right to the tree line as though the sunlight is peeking over the trees.

golden hour lighting angle
Note the differences in light coverage when shooting wide vs tight.

Note: If you’re shooting a wide angle scene, you’ll need to place your flash very far back to fill the entire background. This also means that the light will have to be very high powered. If this isn’t an option, I recommend tightening the frame like you see here.

Step #4: Dial In Your Flash & Camera Settings

golden hour lighting raw capture
Taken at 1/500 sec, f/1.4, ISO 50

Dial in your ambient light settings first. Since we want the golden hour lighting to look natural, we’ll need to keep the ambient light bright. The settings I used were 1/500 sec at f/1.4 and ISO 50. Pop the flash and you’ll wind up with a beautiful sun-kissed image.

Step #5: Post-Production Touches

Add in your preset in Lightroom and here are a few tips I like to use to enhance the golden hour lighting look. For this image, I used the Modern Pack. All of the tools can be found in the Retouching Toolkit from Visual Flow.


First, enhance the vignette.


Next, add a radial burn.


Lastly, emphasize the sun flare with a brush right over the light.

Before / After

golden hour lighting final before after

Let’s compare before and after adding our flash to create golden hour lighting.


I hope you enjoyed this article/video. Give this tutorial a shot and capture incredible portraits by creating your own golden hour lighting! For more ways to capture incredible images using flash, visit SLR Lounge Premium and check out the Advanced Lighting Course. You can also visit Visual Flow for the complete Retouching Toolkit and preset library.

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!