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How do you capture the magical light?


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#21 Game Warden

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 09:21 PM

How about an update on this topic, now that some of @russell's photos no longer show up: share with us your magical light photos and tell us your technique for taking them.


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#22 Tom Kellie

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 09:23 PM

How about an update on this topic, now that some of @russell's photos no longer show up: share with us your magical light photos and tell us your technique for taking them.

 

~ @Game Warden

 

Am I alone in not having any idea what “magical light” means?

 

I've never read this term before. Google isn't available here or I'd look it up.

 

I apologize for my ignorance.

 

Tom K.



#23 russell

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 08:02 AM

@Game Warden

 

Could you check where the images were hosted as I can't edit the post? I may have some time Thursday night to try and correct them, apologies, but just very busy at the moment!


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Au revior ST - its been a pleasure, see you in 2015!


#24 Earthian

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 09:57 AM

There you go @Tom Kellie (extract from wikipedia)

 

In photography, the golden hour (sometimes known as magic hour, especially incinematography) is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the Sun is higher in the sky.

Overview[edit]

200px-PlanckianLocus.png
 
The color temperature varies by time of day. During sunrise and sunset, color temperature tends to be around 2,000 K, during the "golden hour" it is around 3,500 K and during midday it is around 5,500 K (the color temperature can vary significantly based on altitude, latitude and weather conditions).

When the sun is near the horizon, sunlight travels through a greater depth of atmosphere, reducing the intensity of the direct light, so that more of the illumination comes from indirect light from the sky (Thomas 1973, 9–13), reducing the lighting ratio. More blue light is scattered, so if the sun is present, its light appears more reddish. In addition, the sun's small angle with the horizon produces longer shadows.

The term "hour" is used figuratively; the effect has no clearly defined duration and varies according to season and latitude. The character of the lighting is determined by the sun'saltitude, and the time for the sun to move from the horizon to a specified altitude depends on a location's latitude and the time of year (Bermingham 2003, 214). In Los Angeles, California, at an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset, the sun has an altitude of about 10°–12°.[1] For a location closer to the equator, the same altitude is reached in less than an hour, and for a location farther from the equator, the altitude is reached in more than one hour. For a location sufficiently far from the equator, the sun may not reach an altitude of 10°, and the golden hour lasts for the entire day in certain seasons.

In the middle of the day, the bright overhead sun can create strong highlights and darkshadows. The degree to which overexposure can occur varies because different types of film and digital cameras have different dynamic ranges. This harsh lighting problem is particularly important in portrait photography, where a fill flash is often necessary to balance lighting across the subject's face or body, filling in strong shadows that are usually considered undesirable.

Because the contrast is less during the golden hour, shadows are less dark, and highlights are less likely to be overexposed. Inlandscape photography, the warm color of the low sun is often considered desirable to enhance the colours of the scene.

Film director Terrence Malick has used this technique in films such asDays of Heaven,[2] The New World, and The Tree of Life (in the case of The New World, the entire film was shot in this hour or blue hour). The Robert Redford directed film The Milagro Beanfield War made extensive use of the golden hour in its location filming.


Edited by Earthian, 29 September 2015 - 09:57 AM.

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#25 Game Warden

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 10:00 AM

@russell Not sure where they were hosted, probably on a defunct website? No problem, if you have time, let's see some of your examples again.

 

Matt


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#26 Tom Kellie

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 10:08 AM

~ @Earthian

 

That's very thoughtful of you to post that.

 

Once I read it, I recognized the phenomenon, but had never heard the terms which describe it.

 

It has been the case that in all visits to both Meru and Samburu I've been out on game drives during the ‘magic hour’.

 

The resulting images have the color and luminosity effects as described in the article you posted.

 

Where I'm headed tomorrow, Sabi Sands, apparently also offers game drives during the ‘magic hour’.

 

It's one of Safaritalk's nicest features that members will take the time to patiently help out those of us with less experience and understanding.

 

Many thanks, @Earthian!

 

Tom K.


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#27 Earthian

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 10:20 AM

@Tom Kellie

All the best @Tom Kellie and have a safe flight and happy viewing.

Look forward to your TR.


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#28 russell

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 03:09 PM

@Game Warden

Can you see in the original post where it links to when in the edit function?

Au revior ST - its been a pleasure, see you in 2015!


#29 Game Warden

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 03:24 PM

@russell It was from your old photoshelter account.


"Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you." - African proverb.

 

How to create your gallery album and upload images.

 

How to post images in the text.

Want to tag another member in a post? Use @ before their display name, eg @game warden


#30 ajm057

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 12:41 PM

I see a lot of lovely images of wildlife in really amazing light, like at sunrise or sunset but I never seem to be able to capture this magical feel myself. Does anyone have any tips? biggrin.gif

 

Get up very early and start your game drive as far before sun-rise as possible so that you can find and set up on your first shots (with sun behind) before the sun has started to rise above the horizon. In Kenya you have about 10 minutes once the sun has started to rise (06:45) until the really special red/golden light starts to cool and about another 30 minutes transition to normal good light. I have found that on days with no cloud cover, image quality starts to go by 09:30 as the light becomes increasingly harsh and heat haze begins to impact images. The best "normal" light is between 0715-0930, when images are soft lit and shadows are low or non-existant.

 

For me, there is little point in taking shots between 10:00 and 5-5:30pm - both lack of animal activity and the heat of the day take until at least this time to reset. The one exception is Cheetah chases during the migration - which happen almost anytime - or if it is raining/very cloudy. You have to be prepared to return to the camp in the dark. 

 

Shooting in very low light is a challenge un-too itself -- You can expect to have to shoot at ISO's greater than 3200 very early in the morning or late in the evening before sunrise or after sunset. And you can get some good results, but they are no where as good as shots in first light shortly after sunrise and before the sun has completely set.

 

Set your White Balance to Cloudy (5,500 K) and leave it there all day. Please no not use Auto-WB otherwise the camera will vary the WB temp to a default value, and you will not see the golden/red, unless you change it back. 

 

This is the time when the light differences can be the most significant -- You absolutely will have to recover shadows, reduce highlights, and change a host of other exposure settings, reduce noise etc.. So shoot RAW 14-bit compressed and do not use your jpgs - absolutely no point taking them.

 

I can unequivocally say that the quality of my low light images has improved with the help of the best technology I can afford. The combination of a Nikon D5 and 400mm f/2.8E FL lens provides extraordinary performance and gives me confidence that I will find focus and lock on in almost no light.

 

Here are a few examples - including extremes at each end

 

20170312-18-50-25_D506210.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 5000 f/3.5 1/640th - taken 5 minutes after sunset started. Sunset completes within a minute or so - so these are very much last light OR blue images

 

20170319-06-57-20_D509128.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 100 f/4.5 1/500th - taken a few minutes after first light on sunrise.

 

20170319-07-18-32_D509313.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 200 f/9.0 1/2,500th - taken a 25 minutes after first light on sunrise.

 

We were tracking Malaika's daughter who was hunting Tomi's and chose sunset as the time she chose to start her chase. Note how fast the light drops in Kenya around sunset. None of these images are useable, but it was interesting to try. The shutter speed was to freeze the action - which it did - but at the cost of IQ. 

 

20170308-18-44-56_D504010.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 9000 f/7.1 1/1,600th - taken as the sun was about to start to set.

 

20170308-18-51-29_D504036.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 5000 f/5.6 1/640th - taken as the sun was about to completely set.

 

20170308-19-06-51_D504050.jpg  

D5 with 400mm at ISO 72408 f/4.0 1/1,000th - taken a 21 minutes after sunset.

 

20170308-19-07-39_D504060.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 102400 f/4.0 1/1,000th - taken a 23 minutes after sunset and it was very dark (black).


Edited by ajm057, 26 March 2017 - 12:46 PM.

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#31 russell

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 07:20 PM

@ajm057

I would not recommend people to set their WB to cloudy, as it can easily make pictures look unnatural.

I would assume you shot in RAW? At which point manually setting WB makes no difference to the image. It is generally considered better practice to start in auto and adjust the WB accordingly on post processing.

Shooting with a neutral WB is important when using the back of camera to review camera settings. The jpg produced often has less dynamic range, and pushing the WB can show results with blown highlights, when the opposite is true. This can be important for those that expose to right to capture as much detail as possible.

Edited by russell, 26 March 2017 - 07:21 PM.

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Au revior ST - its been a pleasure, see you in 2015!


#32 Earthian

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 07:51 AM

Russell:

Your photos do not show up and the links are dead too. Any chance of updating the links?

Thanks


Edited by Earthian, 27 March 2017 - 07:52 AM.

Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time.
  

#33 wilddog

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 09:47 AM

Good to see you are still around @russell  (with others of professional/ expert photography standing) to provide advice to us here on ST. One only has to look through the trip reports to see the expertise of many members. Both you any many others have made a valuable contribution here

 

 

I have no doubt @kittykat23uk has resolved her original query of 2011, as is clearly evidenced by her TR's. But it is always interesting to get the debate going again. particularly as technology moves on.



#34 janzin

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 03:23 PM

I definitely agree with @Russell  setting white balance to cloudy, at least with Nikon cameras, will give horrible results. In fact I always set my WB to daylight with a bit of an adjustment to about 5300K, on my Nikons this gives very pleasing results almost all the time. Nikon's auto settings are too cool for my taste. Of course I shoot RAW and can adjust when required.

 

One thing about the "magic light." Its a bit subjective and I think it can be overdone. I also like it better for some subjects than others. I do love it for most mammals,especially those tawny cats :) but I find that most often, for birds I do not like that "golden light" look unless I am aiming for something like a sunset, sunrise or silhouette. Generally speaking I like the real colors of a bird to shine through. I often color correct bird shots that look too warm, they just don't look right to me. But like I said, its very subjective!


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#35 Alexander33

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 05:04 PM

One thing about the "magic light." Its a bit subjective and I think it can be overdone. I also like it better for some subjects than others. I do love it for most mammals,especially those tawny cats :) but I find that most often, for birds I do not like that "golden light" look unless I am aiming for something like a sunset, sunrise or silhouette. Generally speaking I like the real colors of a bird to shine through. I often color correct bird shots that look too warm, they just don't look right to me. 

 

Totally agree with this. Whenever I've taken bird shots at the point when I thought that late afternoon golden light was just perfect, in the end, they've never looked right and I've never been satisfied with them.  But for just about anything else, it's the ideal light for me.  Early morning comes in second.

 

I also shoot Nikon, and I always set my white balance to "daylight" as well, as I think this yields the most accurate colors in a scene.  Auto white balance, at least with Nikon, produces photos that simply look too cool to my eye.  I will say that I have, on occasion, switched to "cloudy," the most notable situation being when we encountered a pride of lions in high, dead grass on a very overcast morning, a very dull, monotone scene that needed some warming up.  But "daylight" is my default.


Edited by Alexander33, 27 March 2017 - 05:09 PM.

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