Every spring in the 12th arrondissement in Paris, France, there is an outdoor amusement park set up for two months. The festival is called Foire du Trône – Fair of the Throne. The fair has all the things you would expect; elaborate rides, contests to win prizes, food galore and a fun atmosphere. I went with my wife and 6-year-old son.
After a long gray sky winter in Western Europe, we have been blessed the last few weeks with beautiful spring, sunny weather. Everyone seemed refreshed and excited to go out and enjoy.
One of the things you will hear many outdoor photographers discuss is the time of day to take pictures, otherwise know as Golden Hour. Golden Hour begins pre dawn until a little after sunrise and conversely in the late evening prior to sunset through the blue hour after sunset. These are the times of day you will see the least amount of harsh contrast in the light and sky is bursting with beautiful colors.
Some take the approach that these times are the main shooting opportunities, the times that will produce the most cherished and special photos. Cityscapes, beach scenes, outdoor candidates look extra special during that time. In the case of Foire du Trône, I knew I wanted to be on or near the Ferris wheels at sunset time.
There are many problems with those limits when photographing somewhere you will be for a limited time.
- You can’t control the weather. Unless you are in Greece in the middle of the summer where every day will be the same, in Europe especially you could have many cloudy days (by the way there are many advantages to light in an overcast environment (for another time).
- All your photos will be in the Golden Hour.
- Many people (myself included) don’t love getting up in pre dawn hours to shoot all the time.
- The opportunity may disappear in the future. You may have it in mind to return at some point but run the risk you never do.
- It makes you lazy. Your photos become like a formula and you aren’t pushing and experimenting beyond your comfort zone. A good time to try a new angle, different lens (we will be discussing gear in great detail).
- It is a great time to photograph details and people.
- You can use that time to scout for opportunities worthy of returning later if you can.
So whether you are using very sophisticated camera equipment or a smartphone, concepts of light apply to everyone.