The Golden Hour

February 11, 2019

“The Golden Hour (sometimes referred to as the Magic Hour) is often defined as the first and last hour of sunlight in the day when the special quality of light yields particularly beautiful photographs.”

Brown Pelican (7:27 a.m.)

Photography books, videos and photography experts all refer to the ‘golden hour’ as one of the best times of the day for taking pictures. I hadn’t paid much attention to this suggestion, mostly because I like taking pictures anytime—and usually as part of a walk that I fit into my day when it’s convenient. But, since we’ve been here in Florida, I’ve been waking up every morning (not on purpose) at around 6:00 a.m. I decided, that since I was already awake, I might as well give the ‘golden hour’ a try. 

There’s a small lake not far from here that would be perfect for an early morning photo shoot–there are lots of birds and many of them seem acclimated to people. I checked with Google to see what time the sun would rise (7:11 a.m.) and made sure that I was ready, camera in hand, when the golden hour began. My best subjects, for the first phase of this early morning shoot, were the brown pelicans. I love all the variations in their feathers, and they looked particularly lovely in the early morning light. Even the pictures of the white pelicans, who often don’t photograph well, turned out nicely.

Once the ‘golden hour’ was over (around 8:15 or so), I continued to walk around the pond just to see who was there and what I could photograph.  There were wood storks, blue herons, green herons, great egrets, limpkins, black crowned night herons, greater scaups, and one ring-necked duck (at least that’s the only one I saw).

And, as I was busily shooting all the birds out on the pond, a young woman quietly approached me at the water’s edge and said, almost apologetically, “I don’t mean to bother you, but there’s a bald eagle up in that tree back there.” Wait, what?? A bald eagle?? I thought she must surely be mistaken, as many people are, thinking they see an eagle when actually it’s an osprey. To solve the mystery, I quickly zoomed in on the place where she was pointing and, sure enough, it was a bald eagle!

After thanking her profusely, I hustled down the path to a spot with a better view and started snapping pictures. No sooner had taken a few shots, when the eagle spread his  wings and prepared for departure. Luckily, my shutter speed was already set for 1/2000 of a second and I was able to capture a few flight pictures that were as crisp and clear as the stationary ones.

My ‘golden hour’ had turned into a ‘golden day’. I had been wanting to get a picture of an eagle on this trip to Florida, and today just happened to be the day!!  

Wood Stork (9:27 a.m.)

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