Golden hour : Sunset Beach

  • June 21, 2013 · 8:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

On the longest of days (solstice is actually the day before), and the first of the summer, it's a good occasion to practice taking photographs during the golden hour. The first and last hours of sunlight can be magic, so they say, and here we'll be spending that last hour in an appropriate spot, Sunset Beach.

The light reflecting from the 'scapes feels soft (because of diffusion) and warm (because of the amber hues), the bellies of clouds can turn from grey to orange to vermillion, the air looks thick, objects glow and details pop. So we'll spend part of the evening and take cityscape and landscape photos, sunset photos and portraits too.

Perhaps you like sleeping in or typically not photograph after supper or are a magic hour enthusiast. Do you enjoy calm periods of photographing? It could definitely be fun and influence our process. So let's go capture some dramatic scenes.

You can bring your tripods and ND filters (if you have them; for sunsets and slower times). And for any film buffs out-there, try to have some high ISO rated film, 800 and above.

Here are a couple of pages about the subject to get you started, but I encourage you to seek out information.
Photography Mad
DP Review

We'll have a Meetup for blue hour (twilight time) photography soon.

The Walk-about
We'll explore Sunset Beach Park; we'll cut loose. We'll meet near the front of the concession stand (see map) at the edge of the beach at 20:00 (8:00 pm), make introductions, ask questions about the topic and then set ourselves loose to have fun and take photos. And to have time to set up.

The golden hour, as per calculators, will begin at about 20:30 and end at about 21:30 (sunset).

We will end the Meetup at 21:30 (9:30 pm), or abouts, back at the concession stand. Even after the sun completes its drop behind the horizon, the colors can be awesome.

From there we will make our way to the Morrissey Pub (1227 Granville Street @ Davie) for 22:00 (10:00 pm) where we can catch up for drinks and conversations and celebrate the Midsummer a little.

The Aim
The function of the group is to learn and practice the techniques of photography. This involves learning photography not only from your guides but also by sharing knowledge with your group-mates. The intention is also to organize and get to know new people. The attendant size of the meets will be small so participants can have the opportunity to get to know all their group-mates and spend time with a guide. If you select to attend a meet and then cannot make it, please be courteous to others in the group and change your RSVP status as soon as possible to allow others who might be on the waiting list the chance to participate.

The Après-Meet
Please feel comfortable in posting your photographs and advising others; critical appraisal is helpful. What will also be appreciated are ratings and, especially, comments to individual meets and the group dynamic as a whole. This is important because it will ultimately add value to our meetings and improve our experience.

Update #1: Exercises
We want to work with this beautiful light; one that softens edges, lowers contrast, elongates shadows, warms surfaces, emphasizes texture, captures particles in the air and creates gentle tonal transitions. Here, we want to practice capturing the effect on the surroundings.

Here are a few captures to practice and post.
1- A photograph of a cityscape where the light affects the surfaces and edges of built structures.
2- A photograph of the park or beach where the light affects natural textures.
3- A photograph of a landscape or a long shot where the light affects the tonality of objects and the atmosphere.
4- A portrait photograph where the light affects skin tone. Ask a stranger to pose for you.
5- A photograph of the sunset where the light will affect the level of exposure.

In every case, use the color, quality and direction of the light, and the play of shadows, to your advantage.

Update #2: Tips for beginners
Take the time to think out your composition and try to make the photograph. We want to help you move from a heedless, automatic mode to an engaged, manual mode or as declared above, free-capture photography. Any camera will do; but know how to best use its capabilities. However, a camera that allows for manual control will offer more range with which to compose. In the case of photography during the evening golden hour, light levels change quickly and diminish. To get the desired exposure we can compensate by opening up the aperture, slowing down the shutter-speed or increasing the ISO.

If you open up the aperture, you decrease depth-of-field. This might be good for mid-shots and portraits but might not be good for landscapes or long-shots. You have to be mindful of the shutter-speed; it might be too fast and make the exposure too dark for your liking.

If you slow down the shutter-speed, you increase the chance of capturing blur by motion or camera shake. This might be good depending on the subject matter. You have to be mindful of small apertures, which might create depth-of-field too great for your subject matter.

To compensate for slow shutter-speeds, you can increase the sensitivity, ISO. High ISO typically causes "noise" with sensors (not as nice) or shows grain in film. Again, this might be fine depending on the subject.

The use of a tripod to steady the camera is good for such an occasion when an exposure typically needs slower shutter-speeds, whether you want to keep the ISO relatively low or the aperture relatively small. If you do not have one on hand you can steady the camera on a bench or rock, the ground, or even by your stance. Work and compose with what you have.

Another situation when photographing in this light condition, especially towards the sun, can be the great difference in brightness between the foreground and the illuminated sky. You have to be attentive to the reading the camera light meter supplies and compensate for the large variation in the levels of exposure. To get the desired exposure we can choose some intermediate setting between high and low readings, use exposure compensation, bracketing an exposure or using filters.

You camera light meter will always normalize the brightness of an object. If you take a reading of a bright blue sky, the exposure will come out as a darker, middle blue. If you take a reading of a green lawn in shadow, the exposure will come out as lighter, medium green. To correct for this behavior you either expose for the area that is most important to the composition or select an intermediate exposure setting to balance the composition to your liking.

A Graduated Neutral Density filter, where one half is tinted, will lower the light level of the illuminated sky to a certain degree relative to the foreground. This will offer a choice of exposures with less contrast, perhaps with detail in the shadows; considered balanced.

Bracketing is taking additional exposures, over and under the chosen settings. You can then superimpose them in post processing. Your digital camera might even be able to do this automatically as long as it does not change a crucial setting. We can do this with film too, but superimposing is rarely done because the inherent very high dynamic range allows for flexibility. Exposure compensation is similar. If you feel that the general camera meter reading is off, giving an image that is too bright for instance, you can compensate for this by changing the exposure compensation setting to underexpose, to a level of -1 or -2. You might wish to bracket if you are new to a certain lighting condition, or do not agree with your imprecise meter, or you do not have the time, or even with your best guess you want to be safe and not miss an opportunity.

If we do not have filters or [+/-], we have to take a hands-on approach. If the photograph is facing the sun and you find a pleasant silhouette with striking colors above, take a meter reading off the disk of the sun (not right at it) to get an exposure of the illuminated sky that is bright and rich, and not blown out. If you think more detail in the shadows is necessary for your composition, take another reading of the foreground and then chose a setting in between to brighten it somewhat. You can even position the disk of the sun behind an object (even right outside the image frame) to reduce the overall brightness and possibly bring out detail in the subject in shadow. This can also be done for dramatic effect.

In either case, we have to meter the different areas of light correctly and change our settings according to our composition. If you only have an Automatic setting, you can possibly fool the camera into accepting the light level of one part of the scene and then re-composing the frame.

Generally, it is important to verify the white balance setting so as not to create a particular color cast on the image. In the case of golden hour photography make sure it does not counteract an otherwise warm looking scene. Take a test shot to make sure the cast is accurate or pleasant; then change it or turn white balance off. Although some films can be considered cooler or warmer in hue, white balance is not as problematic with daylight color film because it (color temperature balance) is built in, and if needed filters can be used to change the cast.

Verify the sharpness of the image by using your depth-of-field preview. If you do not have one then the rule of thumb for aperture is: large f-numbers (like 16 or 22) will give you sharpness throughout; small f-numbers (like 1.4 or 2) will only render the focused object sharp and make things around it blurry. Depending on the direction of the light, the bokeh can be spectacular.

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  • Dionysios

    You are all very welcome, but I must say that it was you all that made it fun. And Cheers! on the wonderful and impressive photographs. There are good questions being asked, but keep on going! What techniques are you curious about? What tips do you need for next time?

    2 · June 24, 2013

    • Dionysios

      Unfortunately I ruined some of my negatives by partially exposing them. I gotta get my mind off the souvlakis I think. We'll see what the lab does.

      June 24, 2013

  • kelly

    Thank you Dionysios...most enjoyable evening!

    1 · June 22, 2013

  • Enrica

    Luky day with so nice sunset! and nice people
    Thank you Dionysios

    1 · June 22, 2013

  • Candy

    Beautiful people & nice sunset!

    1 · June 22, 2013

  • Doug G.

    Good choice of settings

    1 · June 22, 2013

    • Hella

      Thanks Doug. Wish I had your camera. :-)

      June 22, 2013

  • Dionysios

    Hi folks,

    thank you all for coming out to play. The evening gave us some magic. Y'all made it fun.

    Post your photos - the one's you like and even don't like, and tell us about it. Let's get a conversation going; ask questions and we'll try to help.

    À la prochaine!

    1 · June 22, 2013

    • Hella

      I don't know what to ask yet but posted quite a few pix so you can see what this android can do. It can do a lot more but I need to play with more settings. Also, need to try the portrait too. Thanks again.

      June 22, 2013

  • Hella

    Excellent...thanks for the encouragement and welcome.

    June 22, 2013

  • Mike

    Great start to learning more about photography! Had some great conversations with other group members.

    2 · June 22, 2013

  • Hella

    Thanks for the wonderful sunset, Dionysios :-) and hosting this event. I had fun with my Smartphone too.

    1 · June 22, 2013

  • Julie

    Many thanks to Dionysios for hosting the event and the experienced ones like Mehdi and Shannon (I believe?) who gave me helpful tips for shooting to the sun and in the night. It's my first meetup for the group, and it was both fun and educational for a novice like me, not to mention meeting a couple of friends. See you around! :)

    3 · June 22, 2013

  • kelly

    I might be a few minutes late, my sister is giving me a ride downtown and has had to do a few minutes of OT....

    June 21, 2013

  • Dionysios

    It looks like it's going to be a fine evening. Besides, we have to take advantage of the conditions. So, we'll get to know each-other, take some good photos and have a drink. Bring warm clothing. Read the tips. Bring your questions and your enthusiasm. See y'all there.

    1 · June 21, 2013

  • Ivan

    Sorry I didn't know that I got bumped from the waiting list till late today and now I don't think I can make it. Have fun!

    June 21, 2013

  • Daina

    So sorry to cancel last minute but something has come up.

    June 21, 2013

  • Photo S.

    Hi All, I will not be able to make it this time, however I am in the downtown area right now (16:10) and I see it beginning to clear in the south - south west. Good luck to you all. Erez.

    June 21, 2013

  • Peter H.

    Sorry for last minute change. Not quite able to TGIF yet. :)

    June 21, 2013

  • Dionysios

    I concur with Carissa. The sun will pop out and I think we'll get nice cloud 'scapes too. Just look outside now.

    1 · June 21, 2013

  • Carissa

    Weather forecast tonight is looking good (no rain)

    1 · June 21, 2013

  • Richard W.

    Sorry guys

    June 21, 2013

  • Joseph H.

    Sorry I have to work late tonight. So bad cannot go. You guys have fun, ok

    June 21, 2013

  • Hella

    How much does it cost? & where is best parking, please? Thanks

    June 17, 2013

    • Peter H.

      Here is the parking lot info: http://www.easypark.c...­

      June 20, 2013

    • Candy

      Many thanks for the info Peter!

      June 21, 2013

  • robert

    have flu.have a great shoot.see you all next time.

    June 20, 2013

  • Hella

    Thanks for parking info. Much appreciated. :-)

    June 20, 2013

  • Waseem

    Won't be able to make it. Have fun guys. Looking forward to seeing great pictures

    June 20, 2013

  • Peter H.

    I see the forecast is for a very grey evening... Will we still meet for an alternate focus, or will it be postponed? Thanks!

    June 19, 2013

    • Dionysios

      It does mention rain, but we might luck out again. Supposedly it'll be clearing in the evening, which would give nice clouds. I'll monitor it and get back to y'all with a plan of action before the start of the meet.

      June 19, 2013

  • Dionysios

    Can someone please give advice on parking in the area?

    1 · June 17, 2013

  • Dionysios

    Hiya, does anybody have any questions?
    Also, if you can't make it, change your RSVP ASAP so members waiting can join in.

    June 17, 2013

    • Candy

      Hi Dionysios, when can I get in? I'm dying to join this exciting group. If I couldn't get a room, is that mean I can't go??

      June 17, 2013

    • Dionysios

      There's quite a few people waiting, and typically some who RSVPed don't manage to make it.The meetups are small because it's more accessible to interact with other members.

      June 17, 2013

  • Daina

    So just to confirm, this is not happening tonight but next Friday instead?

    June 14, 2013

  • Candy

    Hi Dionysios, I'd love to join this fantastic event & meet with other members. & Looking to improve my photography skill. Any tips on parking? Free parking close to the park?

    June 9, 2013

    • Dionysios

      Next to the concession stand there is a parking area. It's paying and small. Otherwise, I don't know the area well enough to advise on street parking. Can someone else advise on parking conditions?

      June 9, 2013

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We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

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