Golden Hour : Vanier Park

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

The solstices are important events in the year for me and my family because our psyches seem to make a connection with these transitions. 

Our Golden Hour event in June 2013 was challenging and fun, members asked for it to come back, and we wish for it to become part of our repertoire.

On the longest of days (the summer solstice is actually marked very early in the morning), 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, and we'll be spending that last hour in an appropriate spot, Vanier Park.

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 capturing cityscapes and landscape photos, sunset photos, golden light bathing all sorts of man-made and natural objects, and portraits too.

Perhaps you typically do not photograph after supper or are a magic hour enthusiast or just enjoy calm periods of photographing. In any case, it could definitely be fun and influence our process. So let's go capture some dramatic scenes.

Above: The conceptions by Dionysios Psychas

You can bring your tripods and ND filters (if you have them; for sunsets and slower times).

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

Above photograph by Sharon Wish

The Walk-about

We'll explore Vanier Park: the park itself, the paths, the ponds, the sculptures, the dog beach, the ferry ramp, Hadden Park, the area around the MacMillan Space Centre, the Burrard marina and even under the Burrard Bridge. We'll meet at the sculpture "Gate to the Northwest Passage" at 20:00.  As usual, we will make introductions, the subject will be presented, there will be tips, we'll have a short Q&A, identify members with like camera brands to help each other navigate their gear and then we'll head out to try to make memorable photographs and have fun. We'll also buddy up.

The golden hour will begin at about 20:30 and end at about 21:30 (sunset). Twilight ends at about 22:00. Even after the sun completes its drop behind the horizon, the colors can be awesome.

We will end the Meetup at 22:00 in front of the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre (1100 Chestnut Street), by the pool in front of the Crab. From there we'll head over to Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar (2201 W 1st Avenue, corner Yew St) where we can share photos and conversations and celebrate the Midsummer a little.

NB: This is not a lesson, just a photo exploration. If you participate in the event you should also participate by sharing your images in the album (up to 8); ask us questions and we'll get a discussion going to help each other with technique and composition.

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 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.

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.

Tips for beginners

Photographing during the golden hour means taking advantage of the effect the color, density and direction the light has on objects or people. Take the time to think out your composition. And 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. During the evening golden hour, light levels diminish quickly. 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 appropriate for mid-shots and portraits but might not be so for landscapes or long-shots.

If you slow down the shutter-speed, you increase the chance of capturing blur by motion or camera shake. This might be appropriate depending on the subject. Of course, creating blur with intentional camera movement by panning can produce alluring results.

To compensate for low light you can also increase the medium's sensitivity, ISO. A high ISO typically produces "noise" with sensors (which is not nice) or shows grain in film (which is), but 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.

Even though this is a great opportunity to photograph opposite the sun, we'll be in a spot where we can photograph sunset. 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, a high dynamic range. 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 when on priority modes, or using a graduated neutral density filter.

If we have neither, 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.

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. Unless of course you’re blue sunset makes an impact. Take a test shot to make sure the cast is accurate or pleasant; then change it or turn white balance off. If you expose to RAW, an off cast can be easily corrected.

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.

(dp)

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  • Darrell M.

    An enjoyable time viewing the sunset. A great idea to enjoy.

    June 30

  • Mae

    Big THANKS to Dionysios and Sharon for putting this event together. I really enjoyed the outing and meeting some of the new participants. Lots of great photos posted already.

    Look forward to the next one!

    2 · June 23

  • sandra g.

    Dionysios,

    I got a msg saying that I was going to be marked as a no show.

    I was there! I as the one with grey hair and funky glasses. Darrel knows me. I was standing beside him. I lost the group cuz I spent a few minutes taking photos of all the bicycles. I will post my photos soon.

    June 23

    • Dionysios

      Hi Sandra, I didn't take attendance and I apologize for forgetting. Thank you for participating.

      June 23

  • Fel

    Dionysios and Sharon, thank you for organizing this event.
    I had such a great, relaxing and fun time. I met wonderful people. I really appreciate it that people are willing to share their expertise despite their limited time during the precious golden hour.

    2 · June 23

  • Philippa

    Thank you really enjoyed today, learnt lots, had fun and met great people too :)

    2 · June 23

  • Chris

    Hi everyone, thanks for making me feel so welcome, (including a last minute ride to the skytrain station!) I was great to meet you all. I had fun. I'll definitely try and get out to these in the future. Thank you Dionysios for organizing this.

    3 · June 22

  • Chuck Z.

    I'll echo Skyler's comments. Dionysios and Sharon, thanks for organizing another great event. Really enjoyed meeting some new members.

    2 · June 22

  • Skylar

    I'd just like to thank Dionysios again for hosting this awesome event! I had a great time and met some great people!
    I can't wait for the next meet up

    2 · June 22

    • Dionysios

      We thank you Skylar and see you soon.

      June 22

  • Dionysios

    Bonjour! Hi folks, wow, we had a fun evening! Thank you for coming out to play and it was quite nice to meet new members and re-connect with our regulars. I'm eager to see your photos, and I think we all are. There was lots of opportunities to make memorable ones.

    So please show us your stuff. You can post up to 8, the ones you like and even ones you don't like, and tell us about them; ask us questions about technique and composition and we'll try to help each other out. You can also join our Flickr group and post some more; either the same or different; think of it as another platform for different expression. The link is on the left, under the donation link. As well visit our very cool Facebook page - updated by our organizer Shannon - for news, helpful tips and links to tutorials. The link is also on the left there. Merci et à bientôt!

    3 · June 22

  • Philippa

    On the ferry and realizing my Gorilla Pod is at home. Have a Nikon D50, body and an 18-55mm lens.....any suggestions?

    June 21

    • Chris

      I have a gorilla pod spare with me, if you want it. I'll be coming over from the Yaletown walk

      June 21

    • Philippa

      That was so kind of you to offer, sorry I was offline from the ferry trip until after the event so didn't see your post. A big thank you to Chuck for lending me his extra tripod :)

      1 · June 22

  • Mohammad Z.

    Hi,
    Are we meeting by the maritime museum?

    June 21

    • Mohammad Z.

      Not sure where that is. 1000 chestnut street on GPS is the museum

      June 21

    • Chris

      Just walk round the back of it there are about 20 of us here so far

      1 · June 21

  • Janet

    So sorry it looks like I won't make it. I'm still waiting for appliance installation. I hope someone from the waitlist can make it.

    June 21

  • Mae

    Is anyone driving past any skytrain station afterwards? I am taking transit and would appreciate a ride to one.

    June 20

    • Mae

      Thank you so much, Fel!

      June 21

    • Mae

      I'll be the one in the white baseball cap.

      June 21

  • Cecile

    I'm sorry I won't be able to make it tonight. Have fun everybody!

    June 21

  • Iain B.

    Hi all,
    the connection between my gorilla pod and the camera (it lives on the camera) has vanished in the last week. Unless I find it or can get a new one I will only have one tripod tonight
    see you later
    regards
    Iain

    June 21

    • Chris

      Do you mean the little adapter that makes the thread larger? (tiny little screw like thing about 5mm tall)

      June 21

  • Dionysios

    Good morning folks, it looks like we're going to get clear skies and good transparency, so that should mean an intense and enveloping amber colored light. I hope to see you all to-night. Don't forget to charge your batteries, clean your lenses and find your filters. And a tripod is quite useful. Please read through the post and tips for details and information. We'll spend a few minutes at the start to go through them again. RSVPs close soon. Keep in touch here in the comments section. If anybody needs anything it's better to email me. À bientôt!

    June 21

  • Richard W.

    Sorry guys I have to skip this again. Have fun I'm sure it will be fun.

    June 21

  • Chris

    And I came to collect the open spot and it's already gone :-( Have fun. I will be across the bridge in Yaletown earlier in the day so may pop over to the park and say Hi if I get the chance. It shouldn't be too hard to find 30 odd people with cameras in their hands!

    1 · June 20

    • Doris F.

      Sorry you didn't get my spot, but I'll see you in Yaletown.

      1 · June 20

  • Doris F.

    Sorry guys, had to bow out. Had an invitation for a going-away party tomorrow night. Have fun!

    June 20

  • Dionysios

    Hi folks,

    the weather looks like it will cooperate so we can make some cool images.


    I going to be a pill and remind you all that if your plans change or you've DOUBLE BOOKED, to please change your RSVP status to NO.


    There are people on the waiting list who might like to come given the chance. It's not cool to no-show, whether you're a regular or a newbie.


    Does anybody have other questions about the theme or need tips?

    1 · June 19

  • Alison

    Thanks both Iain and Chuck. Iain, is the "gorilla pad" more than say eight inches high (not keen on getting down on my knees)? If so, I'd greatly appreciate using it. If it is, maybe I could borrow Chuck's tripod. Alison

    June 19

    • Iain B.

      Eight inches would be about it. I'll be bringing it anyway - I usually find walls or rocks to perch it on

      June 19

    • Dionysios

      Than you for offering guys!

      June 19

  • Alison

    Dionysios: I'm without a tripod at the moment, and while I note your comments, and alternative ways of steadying the camera in low-light conditions, I really wonder if that's going to suffice--if you can hand-hold successfully during the "golden hour." Could you elaborate?

    June 17

    • Dionysios

      Around the start of the "golden hour", light levels are still great enough to hand-hold a camera. But you still need to have your ISO at 800 at least, a large aperture and possibly a shutter speed below 125. It's a time for photographing people and things bathed in that light, cityscapes and portraits, and it's easy enough to do so hand held. If you want to make sure of your balance, you can even take the photographer's stance which is placing your feet as wide as your shoulders, bending your knees a little and tucking in your arms close to your body to stabilize. Otherwise, lean against a pole, etc. When the sun is close to the horizon - in our above the north shore mountains - it is time to use a tripod. Above ISO 1600 will give you color noise and your shutter speed will be too slow to make an image without motion blur. So you can hand hold for a while but very soon you'll need to stabilize somehow.

      June 19

  • Chuck Z.

    I also have a small tripod someone can borrow for the shoot

    1 · June 18

  • Iain B.

    Hi Alison and Dionysios, I have a tripod and a gorilla pod so the gorilla pod is available to borrow if that helps

    1 · June 18

  • Dionysios

    Does anybody have any questions?

    June 17

  • Dionysios

    Hi folks,
    our Golden Hour is in about a week. It'll be exciting I think.

    Does anybody have any questions?

    If your plans change or you've double booked please change your RSVP status to NO to give others a chance to participate. Our events include small groups, so it is very important to be mindful of your attendance and be courteous to your fellow members. Please read our guideline again here: http://www.meetup.com/Van-City-...­

    1 · June 12

  • Chuck Z.

    Great idea!

    1 · May 4

  • Dionysios

    RSVPs open Monday, 16 June @ 20:00 and close Friday, 20 June @ 00:00.

    1 · May 3

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Meetup has allowed me to meet people I wouldn't have met naturally - they're totally different than me.

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