The Magic Hours
The 'magic hours' around dawn and sunset bring a quality of light that gets photographers excited! Whether you live on the coast, in the country or in a giant metropolis, you should make the effort to get to the right place at the right time with your camera! Read more below...
My Latest Read: The Verdict
I've just read Photo Nuts and Shots: Tools and techniques For Creative Photography. It's a guide to the interesting, creative apsects of photography. The idea is to make you a better photographer rather than fill your head with jargon. Check out my verdict below...
THE MAGIC HOURS
What They Are: The half an hour or so either side of both dawn and sunset, where the sky really 'catches light' from the low sun.
How Capitalize On Them: It's easy to be so impressed by the light at these times of day that you expect every exposure you make to be wonderful! But without the necessary input on your part the results will be disappointing. Below are 5 top tips to help you take advantage of what the magic hours have to offer:
1. Always check the forecast! Sounds obvious, but you can't just set aside a morning/evening that fits with your schedule and expect the weather to turn up for you! Opportunism is what photography is all about, and you need to react when the conditions are right. In my experience the best dawns and sunsets are those that feature just enough cloud. An empty clear sky can bejust as uninteresting as overcast.
2. Turn up half an hour before the light arrives (about an hour before the sunrise/sunset itself). It's important to scout a location some time before you actually shoot it (i.e. the day before). But, whilst you may have good idea of how you are going to shoot the subject, never underestimate the general 'faffing around' time! On paper, getting your kit ready doesn't sound like much, but it somehow sucks up the time.
3. Make a list of places in your local area that you've love to get to at dawn or sunset. Work out where the sun will be rising/setting at a given time of year, and pre-visualize your shots. Then you can start tick locations off the list. Check out the websites of local photographers for ideas.
4. If you live somewhere urban, there are loads of magic hour subjects to work with: the reflective glass and steel of modern buildings, morning sun peeping through high rise architecture, commuters bustling at train stations on their way home/into work. Once you start thinking about it, the ideas come thick and fast!
5. If you live in a rural location, head to somewhere with water. The reflections of deep orange/red/pink light on the surface of rivers, lakes, ponds and waves is really fabulous. The gentle light of the magic hours also enables you to use a slow shutter speed and capture moving water with a cool, misty effect.
MY LATEST READ: THE VERDICT
The Book: Photo Nuts and Shots: Tools and techniques For Creative Photography.
The Verdict: There's always a danger with 'creative photography' type books that they might amount to vague waffle that, basically, just decribe what we do without thinking when taking pictures!
You know: 'be expressive', 'experiment', 'try new things', 'photograph moments of emotion' etc. So, did Photo Nuts and Shots fall into this trap? Well, by and large, no.
There were some outstanding chapters that really supercharged my motivation to go out and shoot. Some quite well known topics were covered with a fresh and accessible approach: scale, leading lines, colour, emotion, story telling, framing, lighting techniques.
As well as explaining general principles, the book is peppered with lots of cool little ideas for specific shots. I love that because it immediately sets your creative juices flowing.
There are loads of great pictures, which should be a given really, but isn't always the case with photography guides. Plus the text is broken up into readable blocks and columns, so I never felt I was confronted with a dull wall of words!
At times the content does succumb to vagueness. The odd paragraph towards the end headed, 'don't give up too easily', 'don't become obsessed', or 'beware of the obvious' are a bit empty. They might make some fair points but won't really help you become a better photographer! But these instances are the exception not the rule.
By the time I'd finished reading this book I had a headful of new ideas, and lots of plans for my photography. It gave my motivation a big boost, so I do recommend checking it out: Photo Nuts and Shots: Tools and Techniques for Creative Photography
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
If you're photos aren't good enough, then you're not close enough. - Robert Capa