The Magic Hour, or as it is sometimes called, the Golden Hour, in photography is the time of day when the natural  ambient light is said to be at its ideal.  Although the time may not be an hour by the clock it is generally the hour (or so) following sunrise and preceding sunset.  At these times of day the hue of the lighting is warmer (more towards the orange and reds of the color wheel) and it is less harsh overall.  In contrast, mid-day lighting can be overly harsh causing deep and dark shadows and highlights that are too bright.  These conditions can often lead to an over exposed image.  The softer light of the magic hour will give you a much better lit image and fewer dark shadows.

Lighting, whether ambient or added in, plays a critical role in the end result of the image.  Paying attention to the position of the sun and the time of day can make a significant difference and is worth taking into consideration before snapping the shutter.

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