Being able to take great photos is incredibly satisfying. Getting to that point is not just about learning how to use your camera and lenses but how to take advantage of the world around you. Photography is all about the recording of light to make an image, be it onto film or with a digital camera the principal is the same. Being able to understand and use light is some thing that you can use to your advantage regardless of the camera you are using. Anything from a point and shoot to an all singing and dancing DSLR, even your phone can benefit from magic light.
No I m not crazy, nor do I think that I am imbued with mystical photography powers 'magic light' occurs twice a day and transforms a run of the mill snap into a thing of beauty. First let us talk about the benefits of magic light. This light has a golden quality, it is warm and soft. No ugly harsh shadows on the face. warm light that you cannot achieve with filters and soft hues in your photographs.
Due to the soft warm tones the light gives a more multidimensional end result. When you take a photograph you are transforming a 3D world into a 2D format. This magical light enables the image to more beautifully represent the 3D qualities of the image.
When does this magical light occur? Well this varies. the general rule is the hour after sunset and the hour before. Those timings are not exact you may get a little more an a little less than an hour depending on where you are in relation to the equator, and obviously the time of sunrise an sunset changes with geography and the calender.
Although both times are the magic hour, so to speak they each have there own special qualities. In the time before sunset the suns rays are more directional and the sun is low in the sky so you get very cool long shadows like the ones pictured above. The time after sunrise has a hazy golden feel to it so that even on an overcast day you get tonal pretty images. This is demonstrated perfectly in the two images below. They were taken on an overcast day and if I had waited until later in the day they would have been dull, flat photos resembling poor quality holiday snaps.
So to conclude; magical light is flattering, it avoids people making squinty faces to the camera, it bathes the subject matter in soft golden light, it offers a more multidimensional image, you can play with cool long shadows and best of all you get to try it out twice a day!