Golden Hour

The Cenoptaph, Queen's Gardens, Dunedin. Captured on my morning commute with the Olympus 17mm on the PEN E-PM1.
The Cenoptaph, Queen’s Gardens, Dunedin. Captured on my morning commute with the Olympus 17mm f/2.8 on the PEN E-PM1. Trees alongside the road cast a barcode-like pattern on the lawn, which I found pretty interesting.

As I tend to be working at both ends of the day, I see a lot of golden hour.¬†Golden hour is an hour either side of sunrise or sunset, so named for the golden tones permeating from the horizon. Warmer toned light mingles with shadows cast over longer distances, which tends to create a magical ambience (hence it’s synonym “magic hour”). I’ve always been rather fond of shooting at these times of day, mostly for the abundance of enchanting lighting.

Sunrise over the Kensington Oval on my morning commute. The field was dew-laden. Exactly what you want when you need to cross it on your commute...
Sunrise over the Kensington Oval, Dunedin, on my morning commute. Taken with the Olympus 17mm f/2.8 on the PEN E-PM1. The dew laden grass was exactly what I wanted when I had to walk across it… Shooting right into the sun caused underexposure of most of the foreground and introduced lens flare.

While often thought of as a hackneyed time to shoot, I relish the challenge of trying to get a unique shot. Simply capturing a more pastel colour palette, for instance, is enough to turn a generic sunrise or sunset into something more. This concept was introduced to me by Richard Ayoade’s film¬†Submarine, which was filmed (on actual film) predominantly during golden hour. The scenes shot at these times were alluring, without ever feeling generic. It’s also a reflection of the fact that rarely, if ever, will identical sunrises and sunsets be encountered.

Sunset over the Clocktower Building, University of Otago, Dunedin. Shot on my OM-D E-M5 with the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens. This weather-sealed combination was handy in the face of the subsequent rain showers.
Sunset over the Clocktower Building, University of Otago, Dunedin. Shot on my OM-D E-M5 with the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens. This weather-sealed combination was handy in the face of the subsequent rain showers.

Golden hour is undoubtedly my favourite time of day to be out with a camera. There’s the charm of the atmosphere, the challenge of depicting it my way and the contentedness from knowing that every golden hour is unique. Even if it is a variation on a theme, having something different to photograph keeps me excited about pressing that shutter button. That’s something which can never be overstated.

Sunset over the Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, viewed from the Mt. Cargill transmitter mast. I have absolutely no idea why there are rays appearing from behind one of the hills, being as the sun was setting behind me as I took the photo.
Sunset over the Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, viewed from the Mt. Cargill transmitter mast. Olympus 15mm f/8.0 on the PEN E-PM1. I have absolutely no idea why there are rays appearing from behind one of the hills, being as the sun was setting behind me as I took the photo. These rays are accentuated by the tapering effect of the white-gold streak on the horizon.
Waitati and Blueskin Bay, north of Dunedin City. Taken on the PEN E-PM1 using an Olympus 15mm f/8.0 lens.
Waitati, Blueskin Bay and the “back” of Mt. Cargill, north of Dunedin City. Taken on the PEN E-PM1 using an Olympus 15mm f/8.0 lens. A mass of clouds passed over the sun, creating the bright spot around the quarry to the right while leaving the rest of the landscape (bar distant hilltops) in shadow. The shadows assist the pools of light in breaking up the dense forest and swathes of grassland.
Blueskin Bay and Waitati, north of Dunedin City, using the OM-D E-M5 with an Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens. The shifting cloud mass meant that the small portion of land near the bay, and some of the distant hilltops, were the major recipients of light in this scene.
Blueskin Bay and Waitati, north of Dunedin City, using the OM-D E-M5 with an Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens. Shifting cloud mass meant that the small portion of land near the bay, and some of the distant hilltops, were the major recipients of light in this scene. This increases contrast, helping to define the contours of the land.
Middle of the otago Pensinsula, Dunedin, as seen from the Mt. Cargill transmitter mast. Shot with an Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens on the OM-D E-M5.
Middle of the otago Pensinsula, Dunedin, as seen from the Mt. Cargill transmitter mast. Shot with an Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens on the OM-D E-M5. Only the peaks were bathed in warm light creating a gradient from dark to light tones. The ocean in the background was not completely shaded, so received lashings of wispy gold across its surface.