There’s about an hour in the morning just after sunrise and an hour in evening just before sunset where the sunlight is especially golden. This is the golden hour, or as I prefer, magic hour. Here in Minnesota we really only get it in the spring, summer and autumn – while we do get it in the winter, it’s a lot less noticeable because the sun is low on the horizon all day.
Last night we had a good rain, but the clouds cleared just a bit along the horizon at magic hour and it made for some really beautiful light. Everything seemed to glow against the dark skies. It reminded me that there truly is magic in this world if you open your eyes to look for it.
Trent Parke is a photojournalist and street photographer, and is the only Australian to be represented by Magnum. The above film short shows some of the images from his latest project, Minutes to Midnight, for which he traveled around Australia documenting the country as it is today. What strikes me the most about Parke’s photography is his use of light to guide the eye to the intended focal point. Some of his images glow, and some just seem to glow around the primary subject. While some of the images’ subject matter is more than a little disturbing, all the images are beautifully and artfully rendered. You can see the full photo essay at the Magnum website.
The more I learn about lighting theory, the more I notice lighting and it’s influence on what I see. I notice the color of the natural light, and how it changes throughout the day. I notice how light elucidates texture when the sun is low on the horizon, and often hides it when the sun is high in the sky. And I notice how lighting can play with emotions, not just in photography but also in my life – the way that the sun popping out from behind a cloud can illuminate a room and life my spirits at the same time.
Every day I’m learning a little bit more, and seeing a little bit more. The door to the world is open, and every day the world is new again. It’s up to us to see it as new, and to explore.
Amy Kingman at Drawings In Motion has posted a fantastic series of articles on making her own lightbox out of foamcore and poster board. The supplies for the design are extremely affordable and the whole thing breaks down for storage when not in use. She mentions in the article that the foamcore and poster board cost her about $5 altogether, but I was wondering how much she’d spent on the lamps she used for lighting, as those can get expensive. No worries – I saw similar clip lamps at the pet store yesterday for $15 each. For someone like me without a lot of cash or space, this design sounds fantastic. I can’t wait to get started!
If you have your own experiences with do-it-yourself lighting please share. Thanks!