Capturing the magic moment

Photographers call the time around sunrise and sunset the “magic hour” because the light is soft and casts a warm glow on the landscape. In the Grand Haven Area, subtle and vibrant colors of sunrise and sunset become deeper and richer at these times of day.  Look for the colors to b come extra saturated after a rainstorm.  The long rains oblique in the magic hour cast dramatic shadows, adding a three-dimensional quality to photographs.

Grand Haven State Park offers a wonderful view shed of the pier, lighthouses and catwalk.  This is a nice place for sunrises but far more popular for sunsets.  Wide angel lenses will take much more of the scene into consideration while your traditional telephoto lens will enable you to zoom in on the lighthouses and pedestrians.

A useful tool for retaining foreground while shooting in to a sunrise or sunset is a split neutral density filter.

An important time to note is the “blue light” times of day.  This is about a half hour before sunrise and a half of hour after sunset, when the sky is dark blue.  If the conditions are right, the clouds light up in splendid shades of orange, pink and purple.

Be sure to note that sometimes shooting and scheduling can prove difficult.  Midday light can produce satisfactory images but more times than not this light can be harsh and unflattering.  During this time of day, try to find areas that are lit indirectly by light reflecting across from another brightly lit area.  A polarizer can help to saturate colors, remove harsh lighting and separate bright white clouds from a deep blue sky.  Another option for shooting during midday, focus on detail shots around you.  Look for interesting items, patterns or natural features.  Take a look at beach grasses, flowers, leaves or how the light reflects from the water.  A macro lens can be effective for detail studies, although your normal lenses will work fine as well.

Watch for dramatic weather conditions; threatening clouds or overcast conditions often result in stark lighting contrasts that can make shooting a challenge but if mastered can produce a fantastic photo.  Just remember to keep a safe distance from the storm.

Remember that as the light changes throughout the day, it also changes through the seasons as well.  Spring offers an abundance of colorful flowers, green grasses and budding trees. Summer is lovely and easy to find subject matter of interest.  Shooting around the weather this time of year is manageable.  Fall is the start of the color show – starting with foliage and quickly followed by amazing sunsets.  NOTE: The most stunning sunsets happen from September through February.  Winter offers a bounty of beautiful scenery from park lands freshly covered in a blanket of snow to the icy covered lighthouses and pier.  Regardless of the season, be prepared and plan the dangers that accompany shooting adventure style.

Grand Haven
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