Thursday, November 17, 2011
The Magic Hour
A popular cliche amongst photographers is that "it's all about the light." It is overused, but it is quite true. If you are around artists or photographers enough, you may also hear the phrases "magic hour" or "golden hour" - the period before sunrise and after sunset when the light is reddish. This light during autumn can lead to exceptionally beautiful vistas.
Prior to the inception of this website and my photographic interest here, I paid little attention to the properties of ambient light - intensity, color, and changing quality over the time of day or cloud cover.
Many of one's intuitions about photography are wrong. A bright, sunny day is the worst time for shooting, particularly midday. Cloudy days give much better color. And the most coveted times for most landscape photographers is during the magic hour.
Some, like photographer Ken Rockwell, will make claims of a rather extreme nature regarding the magic hour: "Glorious light only happens for 60 seconds or less any particular day, if it happens at all. If it happens at all, it usually happens sometime in a window 15 minutes before or after sunrise or sunset." One must, of course, allow that not every photographer wants this particular golden light for every photo.
Capturing this morning light requires being up at a very early hour, which I typically am. Two mornings ago, I was up before dawn and witnessed the extraordinary light of the magic hour illuminating the vestiges of autumn foliage. Everything was aglow in oranges and pinks, begging for a photo. Today, two hours later in the morning, you can see the dramatic difference (lower photo).
Many New York City residents will never see this phenomenon, particularly in the morning - they are not at the right place at the right time to happen upon a natural setting during the magic hour...
Related Posts: In a Different Light, Wood, Glass, Brass and Trees, Light and Lights, Mother Nature, Risk Not Living, Manhattanhenge