The Golden Hour

Photographers call the hour before sunset “The Golden Hour” because of the soft, golden hue of the light as the sun begins to dip below the horizon.  The colors are soft, the light is indirect and subdued, and the shadows create depth in the subject.

I knew I wanted to shoot at that time today and taeg advantage of a cloudless sky and a sun that keeps moving farther to south, giving more horizontal and friendly light. My thought was to take a short drive to a park and capture the reflections on the lake.  The problem was that I didn’t really want to get in the car and go anywhere, so I stayed home and took this shot of the last leaves to turn color and fall in our yard.

These are the leaves on our hedges, their gold capturing the gold of the sun and giving us this gift.  Like so many things in life, they were right under my nose.  I didn’t have to travel more than a few feet from my front door to capture them and share them.

There are times in our busy world where what is in front of us seems ripe for overlooking.  I thought I needed to travel to get the “right” shot, but it turns out that all I really needed to do was open my eyes.  How many times do we do this, thinking that the place over the hill will be much better than the place I am now; the job in the paper would certainly be better than the one I have; or the person who is not with me would certainly be better than the one who is.

Yet if we look at the beauty that literally surrounds us, or the opportunities that present themselves each and every day in our work, or realize that person we are with at this moment is perfect for me, we begin to appreciate the fact that all we need is what we have right now.

What appears to be the ruination of many people is the desire to always want more, to want something different.  The very act of accumulation seems to be the scorecard used to gauge success. The problem with that is when our goal is to have more, by definition it is impossible to ever reach our goal and success will only ever be an unattainable pipe dream.

Why would we forsake the leaves in our yard for the reflections on the lake?  The leaves are just as beautiful, and they are here right now.  Really, that’s all we can ever have is what is here right now. Everything else is either a memory or a fantasy. If we focus on the memory or the fantasy, we lose the gift we have right here, right now.

The Golden Hour is not really an hour long. Depending on conditions, it can last a few minutes or a few seconds.  If we wait for what we think will be the perfect moment to catch the perfect shot, more often than not we miss it entirely.  Yet if we are focused on the here and now, we are able to see the beauty of the light and how it enhances the beauty of our subject.  If we focus on those things that might be, we miss the glorious nature of what is ours, right here, right now.

Happy Feast of Christ the King!

Golden hour leaves

Golden hour leaves

 

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