Saturday 21 September 2019

The Golden Hour

Landscape photographers will swear by the importance of the "golden hour" when capturing a beautiful landscape. The golden hour is the hour before sunrise and after sunset when the light is at its best. Colours are more vivid at that time of day rather than being washed out by a bright midday Sun. The problem for me is that landscape photography takes dedication and commitment and I find it difficult to rise from my bed in the early hours of the morning. On the one occasion that I managed to do so it paid dividends producing the best series of landscapes that I've ever captured.

In July 2012 I camped at the Cae Du campsite just outside Beddgelert in Snowdonia with the intension of capturing a sunrise over Llyn Dinas. The lake was a short one mile walk from my tent. I visited the lake the evening before to check out the position where the Sun would be rising and a suitable location on the waters edge providing the right composition.

The next morning my alarm woke me at 4am and I struggled to rise from my camp bed. I'd normally just roll over and go back to sleep but the need for a toilet forced me to dress so I gathered my camera gear and trudged off in semi darkness along the path to Llyn Dinas with sleep still in my eyes and with a breakfast bar to eat.

It was a very good decision. The location that I'd initially set on didn't produce a good enough composition so I walked a further half mile around the rough and boggy edge of the lake and stumbled on a lone tree that I didn't know existed. It was perfect.

Reeds in Mist

Daybreak on Llyn Dinas

Sunrise on Llyn Dinas

Towards Llyn Dinas

Within the golden hour I'd managed to capture this series of photographs from just before the Sun rose to shortly after on my walk back to my tent for breakfast. The early morning mist that blanketed the lake early on was slowly burnt off by the rising Sun. The icing on the cake was this final photograph "Llyn Dinas at Dawn" which won the National Trust Handbook Cover 2018 Competition. The handbook was sent to over 5 million NT members and I received the prize of a top Panasonic camera valued at £1,800. 

Llyn Dinas at Dawn

Since taking these photographs in July 2012 I haven't shot another photograph in the early morning golden hour preferring to shoot infrared images in the bright light of midday but the old saying that "The early bird catches the worm" rings true if you're a dedicated landscape photographer.