Golden Hour Photos: Level Up Your Portraits Using Lightroom | Beth Doman | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Golden Hour Photos: Level Up Your Portraits Using Lightroom

teacher avatar Beth Doman, West Coast Watercolours

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Lesson 1: What You'll Need


    • 4.

      Lesson 2: Planning


    • 5.

      Lesson 3: Camera Settings


    • 6.

      Lesson 4: Posing and Framing


    • 7.

      Lesson 5: Editing in Lightoom


    • 8.



  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

I’m sure you’ve seen those gorgeous golden hour portraits that professional photographers post on their websites and Instagram feeds. You know the ones: smiling happy families, all back lit and glowing with hope and promise. As an amateur photographer you sigh and wish you could, one day, be as good as that. Well, I’m here to tell you that today is that “one day” you’ve been wishing for. 

It is far easier than you might think, and I’m going to show you how to achieve that look, taking you through the steps of selecting a location, which camera settings to use, how to take the photo, and which Lightroom settings to use when editing. You can even do this all on a mobile device if you don't have a mirrorless camera or laptop with Lightroom installed.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Beth Doman

West Coast Watercolours


I was born and raised on beautiful Vancouver Island and grew up on horseback in a rural area. I was lucky to be raised in an art-filled home, as my father is an artist and makes art every day. I was encouraged to experiment and explore different mediums which led me in a round-about way to art college across the country in Nova Scotia. After a very long hiatus from making art (when I picked up filmmaking and photography along the way), I have picked up a new medium - watercolours. Currently my subject matter is the West Coast and the creatures that live in it. I also do pet portraits.

See full profile

Level: Beginner

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Same, same thing. I'm sure you've seen those gorgeous golden hour portraits that professional photographers post on their websites and Instagram feeds. You know the ones smiling, happy families, all backlit and glowing with hope and promise. As an amateur photographer, you sigh and wish you could one day be as good as that. Well, I'm here to tell you that today is that day you've been lying. It's far easier than you might think, and I'm going to show you how to achieve that look. Taking you through the steps of selecting a location, which camera settings to use, how to take the photo, and which light room settings to use when editing. Let's go. 2. Project: For the project, you'll be taking a photo of a subject outdoors, then you'll be editing the picture in Adobe Lightroom Classic. The end product will be a gorgeous golden portrait with light ******* your subject's hair with a soft, beautiful background steps you'll be taking, You'll be sourcing a location on a sunny day. You'll be taking the photo according to the directions I give you. You'll edit the photo in just a few easy steps. Then you'll export the photo and upload the photo to your project. So. 3. Lesson 1: What You'll Need: To get the most from this class, you'll need a DSLR or a mirrorless camera with a 50 millimeter lens, which has an F stop of 2.8 or less if you're not quite there yet. An iphone with a portrait camera setting can do in a pinch. You'll need a willing model who's comfortable in front of the camera. You'll also need Adobe Lightroom Classic installed on your computer. If you don't have that. A free version of the app is available for the iphone, ipad and Android devices. 4. Lesson 2: Planning: The ideal day will have full sun. Yes, I know people have told you that a bright, cloudy day is great for photos and it can be, but not for this exercise. Ideal time of year is late spring through to early fall, since the foliage greatly enhances these shots. The best time of day is one to 2 hours before sunset, which is actually the golden hour. A very useful app that I use is called Helios. What it does is it tells you when the golden hour is on any given date, either 1 hour after sun rise or 1 hour before sun set. In the lower right hand side, you'll see a little button that says Tools. There's augmented reality lens, which when you open it shows you the trajectory of the sun at a particular time of day. What you do is you point your camera at the scene and it tells you where the sun will be at any given time in that day. Or you can even choose a different day in the future. What this does is help you plan your shoot. So if you have a particular location in mind, then you know exactly where the sun will be and how the shadows will be falling at that time on that date, a day or two before the shoot, take your camera to the pre selected location. Select a park or natural setting with a lot of foliage. You'll want flowers or grasses, and large trees. Take a model with you for the test shots. Most friends are thrilled to get a free portrait shoot to use in their linked in profile or other social media. Go at the same time of day as the planned shot. This is important because you need to know where the sun will be shining and at what angle. Using your model, select three to four locations which have interesting foreground foliage, interesting background foliage, and interesting composition. And dappled shadows are always fun too. 5. Lesson 3: Camera Settings: Here are the camera settings you'll need. I recommend Camera Raw, which is a format that allows you great flexibility in editing without actually damaging the image. Someone told me once that shooting a camera raw allows you the ability to basically retake the photo inside your editing software, which is a really neat way to look at it. The only two things you cannot fix and post are blown out, highlights and errors in focus. Anything else you can fix? You'll want to set your camera to manual mode for full control. Set your F stop, also known as aperture to 1.8 This low F stop allows for shallow depth of field. It creates a blurry background and makes your subject really pop. You may also be familiar with the term boca or bocce, which is a Japanese term. It refers to the beautiful circles you can get when the light hits your background a certain way. You want to set your ISO to 100, adjust your shutter speed to expose for the background the subject will be posed. This is important to know, this is okay because we are going to fix the underexposed subject later on. In light room, auto white balance is okay. Or you can choose shade or full sun. If you're using your phone, you'll want to use portrait setting. You can slide the exposure up and down like this. 6. Lesson 4: Posing and Framing: Here's how to pose and frame your shot. It's a sunny day. Your model is in a good mood and we're in a park like setting. Position your subject so the sun is behind their head and it rims their hair. The best way to achieve this is actually making sure that the shadow of their head is in a. So you can get the subject to participate in their own shot, which is fun. And you can just yell, Sun Blob. And then they can go find it themselves. If your model is standing, have them angle their body away from the camera. This is a more flattering pose than just shooting them straight on. You can also get them to sit on the ground, but to make them look comfortable, ask them to pretend they're settling down to read a book. Often the model will get that and they'll position their body in a nice, comfortable, casual position. Make sure they're not right up against a background, like a hedge or a rose bush. You'll need space between them and the background for the full bocce effect. Use angles to your advantage, like vanishing lines and perspective. It adds more to the shot and if you're feeling extra creative, including some leaves or flowers in the foreground, it can make your shot look extra professional. They will be blurred out, but you'll see what I mean when you take a look at these examples. It just adds an extra little oomph to your photos. 7. Lesson 5: Editing in Lightoom: Although this is not a lesson on how to use light room per se, I'll quickly show you how to import your images. Down the lower left here you'll see an Import button. When you click that, you'll see a pop up on the left hand side, the source. If you have inserted a SD card, it'll appear over here. What you'll do is you'll themes and you can check them all like this. The workflow basically goes up over you either want to copy, move, or add to your light room database. Then over here you continue to go down, you should see a menu, something like this. You can rename your files custom text. You can specify a destination folder, you can even if you wanted to add a subfolder. Then you select where you'd like to go and then you're going to hit Import. Once you've imported your images, you'll see something like this. When you see an image you like, what you'll do is you'll click it. Then up here, the tab you want to select is develop Nail. You have a full screen preview here with all your controls over on the right hand side, make sure you have the basic toggle arrow facing down. We're just going to very gently control the overall exposure here using the slider. Then we're going up to the temperature slider and just dragging it over towards the yellow just to warm it up. Just a bit quick note about color temperature. It's measured in Kelvin. What color temperature means is basically the warmth or the coolness of the light. Incandescent bulbs are around 2,800 Kelvin. Daylight, surprisingly, is actually on the cooler side, it's 5,000 Calvin. A really great feature light room has is the ability to add a mask. What a mask does essentially is helps select an area or an object in your picture. For example, a human subject, an animal, the sky, All with a simple click of a button and the AI does the rest. Now we're going to add a mask to select the subject. The AI does an amazing job with the hair. What we're going to do now is just lighten up the exposure for the subject. And again, warm them up ever so slightly for that golden hour look. Now what we're going to do is add a radial gradient in the upper corner, you can see where the sun's already peaking through there a little bit, I'm holding down shift to make sure it's a proper circle. Now I'm increasing the exposure just to mimic the sun. Again, I'm going to warm it up here. Using that temperature slider, you can drag the inside circle around to move it around a little bit. You can also change the size using the white dots around the edges. Now for a final stage, we're going to do a reverse vignette, which brings in some dark corners and it really makes the subject pop. Now I'll show you what it looks like in the mobile app here you can see on the right hand side there's the edited version. But what we'll do is we'll open this raw, unedited version here in the lower right hand side. You'll see the mask option here. What I'm going to do is choose Mask. And I'm going to hit this little plus button here, select Subject. I'm going to just tap Select Subject. It's having a little think. And it's select the subject, which is great. Now what we want to do is tap on the color. We're going to slide over here to warm it up a little bit. We're going to tap on the light, change the exposure, and we're going to brighten up there. Now we're going to hit the little check mark to add the sky radial. We're going to make another mask. I'm going to tap that, I'm going to tap radial gradient. And then I'm going to tap the sky here, move the circle around, make it bigger. Then again, I'm going to brighten up the exposure a little bit and then change the color temperature. Yeah, there's our fake sun. I'm going to hit the check mark in the lower right. Boom, there you go. 8. Conclusion: Congratulations, I'm sure you now have a beautiful golden hour photo you can share with your friends and family. Just to recap, what we learned is how to scout locations, how to plan for where the sun will be at any particular time of day. You learned how to rim your model's hair with light. You learned how to fix the exposure in light room. I hope you will continue to use these skills in the future. Please upload your project so I can give you feedback and encouragement. Happy shooting.