Finding Golden Time For Photography

The Golden Hour is well known in photography, that time around sunrise or sunset where the world is bathed in a golden, almost magical glow, and every photograph looks like a vintage image made with Kodak Gold in the 1970s.

Ideally any of us might wait and watch at the window for the ideal light and weather, before we then venture out to explore with our cameras for as long as this beautiful light holds.

But in reality, our inability to control the light and weather, plus any number of other responsibilities, means in fact that any time out with a camera is golden time, such is its preciousness.

In the last year or so, my own previously established rhythms have changed, both going out to make photographs, editing the images, and writing about photography.

I’m doing less of all of these activities, which I’m working towards increasing again, such is their value.

How about you? How and when do you make time for the different aspects of photography in your life, what works best for you? Has this changed in the last 18 months?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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36 thoughts on “Finding Golden Time For Photography”

  1. Ah, the challenges of life….you are right in that middle bit with job, family (most important, the kids will be gone before you know it and you can never get that time back) probably a mortgage and almost all your time spoken for. I am now semi-retired, with no mortgage and the kids long since flown the nest, and I also have a very understanding wife who encourages me to head out with the camera when the opportunity is there. When I was younger with all those responsibilities I simply didn’t have the time to devote to photography that I do now, nor could I afford the lenses and other stuff that I have now. So I have for the past three years enjoyed exploring my love of photography with my Contax and other gear, with little restriction. Life seems to me to have seasons, all of which are important and to be enjoyed, and while my kids are still very very important to me, they occupy a different space in my life now, in fact I enjoyed a week traveling with my eldest son and our cameras recently, pure gold!

    1. This is so wise Steve, thanks for posting. I absolutely agree about life having seasons, and sometimes I still think I’m in my carefree single young man season, when I’m actually married with three kids. Very happy with it, but like you say it’s a different set of responsibilities and priorities to the season that preceded, and those that will follow. All to be enjoyed in their own way, as fully as possible!

  2. As COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifted, I’m also going back to my usual street subjects, such as events, protests, festivals, etc. So little to no influence on time, weather, light, etc. I have to make do with what I get.

    1. Robert, does this mean when you do get a photograph you’re really pleased with, it’s all the more rewarding, because of the patience you’ve needed and the limitations you’re up against?

      1. Dan, in “documentary”, capturing the right moment is more rewarding than pure aesthetics, I guess.

        And to be honest, I’m not that interested in “beautiful pictures” anyway. In the first year of the pandemic I did more intentional, creative photo walks – a fun experiment, but I found myself prefering the serendipity and snapshot aesthetics of everyday life.

        That’s one of the reasons I recently bought a film compact (Yashica T3). I really miss shooting film and a point and shoot camera suits my snapshot style.

      2. Ah the much discussed (online) and usually vastly overpriced Yashica T series! I had one of the original T examples a few years ago. Is that a camera you’re returning to after owning one previously?

      3. Didn’t own one before but wanted something fully automatic and saw some very positive reviews of the T3 on YouTube. I found one in good condition at my local camera shop, tested and warranted and for a reasonable price (unlike the ridiculously priced T4s on eBay).

      4. Glad you resisted the silly prices online! Looking back at my thoughts on the original T, I thought it was perfectly capable, but no more so than half a dozen or more other 35/2.8 compacts I had around the same time. Probably my favourite ever film compact was the Olympus Mju 1, or the LT-1 which was essentially the same camera in a fancy leather coat.

      5. Well, I had to return the T3 to the store. It suffered from the T3’s infamous lens issue (skewed in the camera), causing a bizarre tilt-shift effect. Luckily I had a warranty and got my money back. So for now it’s snapshot photography with the phone cam again 🙂

      6. That’s a shame about the T3 Robert, at least you didn’t lose money. Would you look for another?

        I think using any film camera now with electronics has an increasing inherent risk, just due to the age, that you don’t get with a mechanical film camera that can be serviced to work as good as new.

        A photographer I met on Flickr years and years ago has used a huge number of old film compacts, but always had a rule about how much he’d spend on one (used to be 10 euros) because he knew every time you released the shutter could be the last time it ever worked. He was willing to risk losing 10 euros now and again. Still some people seem willing to pay hundreds for old Ricoh, Yashica, Contax, Olympys Mju cameras and more…

      7. No, I will not look for another T3 given my poor track record in buying used cameras (film AND digital). I really like the process of shooting film, but – as you say – the risk of buying a bad copy is increasing all the time.

      8. Yeh, literally daily. I’ve been pretty lucky with used camera buys, but wouldn’t risk more than a few pounds on an electronic camera that’s decades old now. Or at least not with any expectation that it will last long. With digital compacts, because of the relentless upgrade cycle (from the early 2000s until a couple of years ago when phones started to dominate so) I’ve found so many that are virtually new, because the previous owner bought them, shot a few hundred pics (if that), then put them in a drawer for years after upgrading. I know they still have a lifespan and could fail at any time, but it’s perhaps more unlikely than with a camera that’s seen heavy use.

  3. We moved house just as the lockdown began in New Jersey so I don’t know how much of the change of my routine is due one or the other. I continue to spend a lot of time rescanning negatives, both my father’s and mine. After livening in the same building for 47 years I was very familiar with the surroundings and often waited days/weeks/months for particular seasonal changes and lighting. Now I have new areas to explore so I am more likely to go out with a camera and no particular subjects in mind.

    1. Doug, are you starting to do the same kind of thing with your new surroundings, visiting local places multiple times to figure out the light and times when the photographic opportunities might be best?

      1. Hi Dan, It is going to take me a while to become familiar with my new surroundings. The environment has less architectural diversity than the old, so less subject matter there. But we now live at the south end of a sizable man-made fresh water lake that empties into a brackish tidal estuary, and much of the shoreline of both bodies of water is reasonable accessible. I have a few sightlines that I think might be pretty interesting when winter comes, the trees are bare and the sun is lower in the sky.

    1. Yes, I don’t often photograph cows, though there are quite a few locally. Turned out well this time of day.

      Are not photographing at all Khurt, or just less than you’d like to? What are the pandemic restrictions in your part of the world now, and are they still limiting your photography options?

      1. We’re back to having high rates of infection in New Jersey although not as bad as the mostly unvaccinated south. They’ve re-instated some face mast requirements but from observation they are loosely enforced.

        The hurricanes are in full session so each week we get overcast skies and torrential downpours and of course flash flooding. When the sun does come out to play, it’s too hot (31-35ºC) and humid (80-100%) to dine outside so we’ve resigned ourselves to staying home.

        Next weekend, my wife and I are taking a road trip to Oberlin College in Ohio. Our youngest is a student there and we can use the long weekend to properly tour the campus and the town. COVID-19 prevented us from doing that sooner.

        I plan on bringing my Fuji X-T3 (there’s a story behind that) and Minolta XD-11 and some rolls of Kodak Pro Image 100 and Portra 160. Maybe I’ll get lucky and we have a cooler sunny weekend.

      2. I’ll assume by immediate neighbourhood you mean things within east walking distance. There was no damage. We’re on a hill and we have well engineered drainage.

  4. Udderly amazing picture… (sorry, could not resist, after all I am a dad)
    We just had a trip to Hawaii that was amazing – I got to take a lot of great pictures as well as spend wonderful moments with the family.
    But other than that, I have yet to return to my photography output of a couple of years ago, when I was able to go out for photo walks a couple of times a week. I miss those times. Working from home and living in a big neighborhood development where there really isn’t much to photograph, I end up not being out nearly as much. Hopefully that will change a bit in the near future… I like to be near old buildings, vintage cars, flowers (here I would be afraid to step into people’s gardens) and public squares.

    1. Thanks Chris. On the subject of dads, are you familiar with @thedad on Twitter? I don’t have a Twitter account but scroll through jis new stuff every few weeks or so, very funny, very relatable.

      Chris, did you photograph in different places more before during your work breaks/commutes? Or have you moved to a less photogenic area? Just wondering whether it was the working from home or the available surroundings that were the main factor?

      1. I’m not on twitter (or instagram)… I have distractions enough as it is 🙂
        Regarding the reduced photo opportunities, I think it’s both… I don’t go outside on lunch breaks anymore since the family is here. So that’s not a complaint – I do get to spend more time with my family.
        I have also gotten more involved with my church community, playing music much more often. Which in a way helps with having another outlet for creativity.

      2. No I’m not on Twitter either, I just view his stream via a browser every couple of weeks and see what’s been added, usually pretty amusing!

        Interesting to hear your your creativity has evolved/shifted. I think it has to find a way out of us one way or another!

  5. Hi Dan, it’s been a while! Glad to see you are still posting. Love the photo in this one, it’s very striking.

    I haven’t done much photography since I moved in with family back in November 2019! I lost my mojo and then the pandemic happened just as I was getting it back. So since then, most of the photos I’ve taken have mostly been of cats with my phone. There are a few other photos though which have been stuck in my blog drafts for months!

    I’ve since moved house again, living by myself again, and hoping to spend more time at least reading about photography. I haven’t really found anywhere in my area that inspires me to keep shooting, but I’m staying here because it’s cheap! However, now that I’m vaccinated, I intend to start doing more trips to my old favourites again, probably once a month, but when I can’t go out or don’t feel like going so far, I have 26(!) rolls of old film that need developing (probably not by me) and blogging about (of course by me). That is the plan anyway.

    1. Great to hear from you Mel! Yes, I’m not as prolific as at my peak of a post a day (more like a couple a week lately) but still plugging away. Blogging is alive and well in my world!

      I think I missed the last couple of posts on your blog, just read them now. Are you planning on blogging more (no pressure – just curious!)?

      Also curious about your choice of the Trip 35 when you have an XA2. I have had both (albeit not at the same time) and the Trip 35 definitely has its charms (and when you hit the sweet spot the lens can be lovely) but the XA2 I generally found easier and more fun to use, and so much smaller, lighter and easier to carry. The XA is a marvellous camera too, incredible design. I could never quite get used to the focusing patch though, and the one on mine was very faint even with the piece of tape trick.

      Oh are using your Lumix GX7 still? I haven’t used my GF1 anytime recently, or the LX3. But I have a tiny little Lumix XS1 which is great fun on dynamic mono mode, and so compact and light. The 24mm lens is a refreshing challenge too (and actually 24mm, not a 24mm 35mm lens on a cropped sensor digital body).

      Wow that’s a big stash of film waiting to be developed! Did you note what’s on it, or will it be a surprise?

      Glad to see you back on Flickr too, just followed.

      1. Thanks Dan! I do want to start blogging again but probably will be once a week maximum, and it might just be a photos-only post half the time.

        What’s on the film will be a complete utter surprise as I made no notes about what was on any of it, and some of the rolls must date back from at least 5 years ago!

        I prefer the focal length of the Trip over the XA2, the lack of battery, and there’s something about that little lens that really renders colours the way I like; can’t really describe it. I like shooting with it too. Some of my favourite photos were taken with the Trip. I have barely used the XA2 though so may change my mind in the future.

        I still have the Lumix and barely using it, but to be honest I have barely used any of my cameras over the last 18+ months. The LS1 sounds like a great little camera, I just end up using my phone all the time. Thought about getting a digital compact though, as the GX7 is quite bulky, especially with a decent lens on it! How many compacts do you have now?

      2. Just sharing picture posts is a good way of keeping momentum with a blog, without requiring hours of input. And since we’re photographers, sharing photographs is pretty important anyway!

        How did so much film build up then, because I remember not all that long ago you regularly shooting film and sharing the results? Did you only process selective rolls of film?

        I had in my head that the Trip 35 had a 35mm lens. I wonder what the 35 signified, other than 35mm film, which was mainstream at the time, so it’s seems a bit of an unnecessary addition to the name. I didn’t have the Trip and XA2 at the same time to direct compare but know the latter is far more of a compact, lighter pocket camera, something that always appeals. I think the Trip was a bit halfway house for me, almost as bulky as a small SLR but with much less capability, in terms of control, and lens options etc.

        I have two film cameras which I haven’t used in about 4.5 years, and probably ten core digital compacts, plus four or five I’ve not tested enough to know whether I want to keep them or not.

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