Faking The Sunlight: A “Golden Hour” Test Shoot

February 13, 2024
2 min read

One of the most important skills in photography is learning flash. Flash can take your images from ‘great’ to “WOW”.  ...or the reverse which I was certainly no stranger to in the past. Hence why I love to do what I call ‘photographer test shoots’. Non-client shoots where I can just play with light. Shoots where I can practice technique and take notes. This was one of those sessions.

I’ve never particularly been fond of shooting during golden hour. Is the light beautiful? Well, of course. But it’s all so very...cliche. There’s millions of photos with the super strong golden backlit model that’s all hazy and nice. But an underrated part of golden hour isn’t the backlighting, but rather the way light streams through windows and other opaque structures. I love the lighting pattern the sun creates. It’s something I’ve always wanted to replicate with artificial light, so I booked some studio time and a model friend of mine and began my research on how to create the light streaming effect. I wanted a warm and cozy mood while still maintaining an editorial feel, with Sarah in casual lounge-wear.

Enter the MVP of this shoot:

Newer projector lens flash attachment for Bowens mount flashes.

This is a projector lens. It’s, well, the lens of a projector. Due to some lighting science I cannot begin to understand, when you place an object in front of the projector lens, you can alter the shape and pattern of the light. This one came with pre-cut slides and after a lot of cuts (those metal slides are seriously sharp), I managed to create a “light streaming through a window” effect with my flash”. Now came time to test the theory: can I fake golden hour window light? Well, see for yourself:

Model test photoshoot portrait using artificial golden hour light. Shot with a Canon EOS R5.
Model test photoshoot portrait using artificial golden hour light. Shot with a Canon EOS R5.

I truly love photography. It’s like a riddle or even a puzzle sometimes. You have a concept, maybe even some reference and sample photos, and you have to replicate the effect. It’s like crafting an entire narrative with just light.

Equipment used:

  • Canon R5
  • Canon RF 28-70 F2
  • Flashpoint eVOLV 200 x2
  • Neewer Projector Lens Attachment (as key light)
  • Profoto Deep White L (as fill-light)

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