Archive | June, 2014

My 3 Favourite Tips for Golden Hour Portraits this Summer

It’s that time of the year again… golden hour light couldn’t be more sensational and summery!

Something about the soft, warm dreamy light makes taking portraits so much easier – everything just feels perfect. But it’s not always easy to capture the perfect light, as the golden sunlight can sometimes be so overpowering, it’s easy to create a sunlit, washed out portrait…

So here are 3 Top Tips for Golden Hour Portraits which you can implement right now – today, and capture your own golden hour portraits.


Tip #1 – Pick the Right Lens

Picking the right lens for your portraits can make a big difference to your portraits. Mainly because certain lens lengths can make your life a lot easier, as it’s easier to focus the light, and channel it – rather than let it overpower your shot.

I would recommend lenses such as:-

  • 85mm
  • 100mm
  • 135mm

These focal length will create the same effect as the photographs in this post.

However, if you use a wider angle lens, then the sun isn’t as easy to capture, like we have done here.

My 3 Favourite Tips for Golden Hour Portraits this Summer


Tip #2 – Composition

The second, and most important thing you do is compose your photograph, so you get the right balance of light.

If you take a look at the portrait above, then you can see how I’ve angled the shot so the sun is coming in from one corner, and lighting up the girls’ hair. I always prefer back-lighting, as it creates a wonderful, soft, dreamy feel and embrace the warmth of the summer.

So when you go out and try this yourself, try to copy what I’ve done — place your models with their backs to the sun, and position yourself so the sun comes in from one corner.

How much sun you let in is up to you and the light you have — try angling the camera so you let a lot of light in, and then if you see the photograph is washed out by the sun, try angling the camera so there is less light coming in.

It’s a juggle between too much, and too little. But if you try my favourite technique of “too much”, and then “too little” you’ll find the happy medium.

My 3 Favourite Tips for Golden Hour Portraits this Summer

Tip #3 – Feeling

This tip is nothing to do with the technicality of your DSLR, or what other equipment you need… but something we’re renowned for. “The feeling” in our photographs. The photographs aren’t supposed to look like photographs. But rather moments, and feelings we all have, or wish for.

When you take golden hour portraits, these sorts of portraits should feel carefree, thoughtful, happy, joyful etc. but mostly, natural.

Ask your model to just pretend she / he is on their own; laugh, be playful, enjoy the warmth of the sun etc. Your goal is to try and capture the fleeting moments, whilst getting the light balanced, and focus.

It’s not an easy balancing act – but with a few trials, you’ll get it and find it easy. Just practice, and you’ll get it.

One last tip — wear clothes which will enhance the warmth vibe of the light. Such as light and pastel colours – try to ditch the dark, contrasting colours as these can cause a distraction from the overall image, and feeling you’re trying to capture.

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Equipment & Editing FAQ with Olivia L’Estrange-Bell


Whenever I see a photograph I love, I always want to know more about it. Things like…

  • What camera did they use?
  • What lens was used?
  • What software did they process with?

Isn’t curiosity fun?!

Your Questions for Me

So when I receive similar questions, I try my best to answer them.

To answer the best I possibly can, I thought this blog post would do the Job. That way, I won’t miss anything out!

If I have missed anything out, leave me a comment below or email us. 🙂

Note: this was processed in Lightroom with Whipped Cream Lightroom Preset. 

What Camera (DSLR) do you use?

I use the lovely Canon EOS 5D Mark II for most of my photography. Other times I will use the Canon EOS 1D Mark III, which I use primarily for action shots – such as my jump portraits.

Earlier on, in 2010 I was using a Canon EOS 5D, which is also super!

What Lenses do you use?

At the moment my most favoured lens is:

  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L

It’s my general “go to” lens – particularly when I don’t’ quite know what I’ll need.

Also because of it’s size – not tiny, but not huge, it can fit into my handbag without too much effort. Unlike a longer prime lens, such as the CanoN EF 135mm f.20 L.

After the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L, I also love:

  • Canon EF 135mm f/2.0 L
  • Canon EF 200mm f/2.8 L
  • Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 USM


Note: this is a before & after image of how The Sunflares Pack can enhance your photograph – like it did with ours!

What Software do you use to post-process (edit)?

I use Adobe Lightroom – it’s fabulous, easy to use, quick to use and the results are fabulous. I also like Aperture, but it’s my secondary choice.  

I also use Adobe Photoshop, but not nearly as much as Lightroom this is because Lightroom is a lot quicker to post-process multiple photographs.

I also love how it keeps a record of my processing. I can go back to January and see how I processed a photograph, and edit it if I need to.

If you’re starting out, I’d highly recommend it. If you’re using Photoshop, and you’re looking to save time, Lightroom really helps do the job.

The big bonus is the “Presets” section. Photoshop does have a similar section, with their “Actions”, however with Lightroom it’s so much easier to edit your photograph, even if you’re applied a preset, if you find it’s too light, dark, flat etc, it takes seconds to adjust, and you can easily go backwards or forwards to see how you changed things.

If you use Lightroom, then you should take a look at the Lightroom Presets we have spent the last 4-5 years developing and using ourselves, and which give us the results you now see in our photographs. See the full collection here:-

However, I do use Photoshop for any editing, such as removing objects, blending etc. I will also use Photoshop when I want to add a lovely sunflare to my photograph, which is when I use The Sunflares Pack.

sunflareimage5Note: this is a before & after image of how The Sunflares Pack can enhance your photograph – like it did with ours!

What Camera (DSLR) do you recommend?

It’s always difficult for me to recommend what DSLR to buy, mainly because ones budget is usually the challenge — and so many new DSLRs come out, I know I don’t keep as up to date as some.

I’ve only used Canon, so I can’t recommend Nikon, or another brand, but I can say that I love Canon.

So, I would recommend buying the best you can buy, within your budget. The easiest thing is just to look at Canon’s range and work with your budget. A second thing I would say is – find what you ideally want, then go to eBay. It’s amazing what you can find on there when many photographers look to upgrade, they usually sell their “old” equipment – much of which is almost brand new!

If you want tips on how to use your DSLR, download my Photography Tips eBook, or The Bell Sisters’ DSLR Blueprint, both of which will hugely help you with your technique, and know-how of your camera.

What Lenses do you recommend?

Once again, I find it difficult to recommend lenses, I feel equipment is so personal, but if I was buying my kit all over again, this is the order I’d do it in. So therefore what I recommend, based on my experience…

  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
  • Canon EF 135mm f/2.0 L
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
  • Canon EF 25-70 mm f/2.8 L
  • Canon EF 200mm f/2.8 L
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L

If you want tips on how to use your DSLR, download my Photography Tips eBook, or The Bell Sisters’ DSLR Blueprint, both of which will hugely help you with your technique, and know-how of your camera.

Note: this photograph was processed in Lightroom with Whipped Cream Lightroom Preset / Queen Pack.

More Questions?

If you have any further questions, please leave a comment below and I will edit this post accordingly or email you if the question is more complicated!

I hope this post was informative and helpful!

– Olivia

Note: this photograph was processed in Lightroom, with Natural Colours Lightroom Preset, then finally edited in Photoshop, with The Sunflares Pack

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