Utilizing the Golden Hour for Digiscoping

Antlers. Silhouettes. Golden horizons. The first bird chirp in the semi-darkness. Ask any hunter and they’ll agree that such sights and sounds are as treasured as cool fronts and leaf changes.

Here is a scenario. 

Looking up the gradual ridge 200-yards out, you see early-afternoon movement, You see a slight glimmer of light. As your binoculars focus, you notice a nice buck, part in the shadows and part in the light. Specifically, you see that the glimmer is coming off a set of antlers. 

Your heart rate escalates. 

It’s become a particularly special morning. Regardless of the outcome, this is visually priceless. You’re reminded why you have gotten up at 5:00 a.m. for three days in a row.

For me, and many others, this visual is not only imagined, but it has played out multiple times over the years. The sight of a target deer or other game animal is enhanced by light.

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

This profound statement by the great Ansel Adams is true for the photographer, as well as the hunter that leverages digiscoping over the sections of the landscape they roam. 

Translation? Rather than whimsically going outside and taking photos, consider the time of day and the light conditions it yields. 

When it comes to digiscoping, it means beginning your sessions with a purpose, carefully considering scouting locations and light conditions. Merge the two and you have a chance to step up your scouting and digiscoping game. 

Utilizing the golden hours of the day is a huge step toward great hunting and scouting images. 

You have to look no further than the familiar scenario mentioned above.

What is the Golden Hour?

The first hour of light just after dawn and the last hour of light just before sunset is considered by many to be the Golden Hour. These time slots of the early morning and late evening feature the sun at lower angles. The result is a unique and favorable lighting situation. 

Photo of a buck during the golden hour of the evening

Golden Hour lighting yields unique images of game animals and other subjects.

This golden window means that the low sunlight produces soft shadows and diffused lighting conditions – a far cry from harsher lighting conditions such as midday. The low angle of the sun also means that its light travels through more of the atmosphere, visually yielding more even lighting and less contrast. The added warmth is pleasing to the eye and plays out in the images you capture.

Why Use the Golden Hour for Digiscoping?

Pleasing lighting and shadowing effects aren’t the only benefits of digiscoping during these brief daytime periods. 

Early morning and late evening; do those times sound familiar? 

As hunters, that would be a resounding yes. These times are also golden hunting and scouting periods. It’s when whitetails and other game animals are usually on their feet. Suffice to say, we’re already accustomed to hitting the woods during these hours. Whether hunting or scouting, it’s when the show starts. This is the short answer.

Golden Hour Calculation

To be present and settled for the golden hour can mean little more than arriving early enough. Still, it never hurts to be prepared and every day is a new one. Regardless of location, most weather websites list the exact times of sunrise and sunset. Secondly, there are calculators available specifically for photography by day. The Magic Hour app is particularly effective for determining the golden hour lighting time and quality for a given area.  

Scouting is usually a means-to-an-end activity. When directly done in the field, magnified images from digiscoping are more about capturing an animal’s traits than visual masterpieces. The beauty is that you can have both during these periods of the day. In addition to the hunting intel, you’re left with more interesting images and videos for social media and to show off to friends. It all starts with the right outdoor conditions and a Phone Skope digiscoping adaptor kit.

Letting the Atmosphere Do the Work for You

Look, I’m far from an accomplished photographer. With that, I’ll take any edge I can get. When I leave the pavement for photography or digiscoping sessions, anything that can bolster my efforts are dear to my heart. Don’t miss out on these chances that are served up free by nature. 

Have your cake and eat it too with images highlighted by the wonderful lighting effects of the Golden Hour. Grab your favorite optics, smartphone, and Phone Skope digiscoping adapter, and be ready to capitalize. What are you waiting for?

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