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Adventures in Photography – The Magic Hour Shots

October 26, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Got up at insane o’clock this morning having responded to a model Jasmine T’s (check her out she is great) casting to capture the ‘Magic Hour’ at Tower Bridge. What is the ‘Magic Hour’ I hear you cry… well,  the magic hour, sometimes referred to as the ‘golden hour’ especially in cinematography is the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the Sun is higher in the sky.

Why is this weekend so important? Well, with the clocks going back the sunrise aka the magic hour is within reach of mere mortals as thanks to the time adjustment sunrise is actually brought forward (6.45am) and remains there until much closer to Christmas and New Year when unfortunately it gets damn cold. Prior to today sunrise was really early (4.30 – 5.30am). Now, whilst the early starts may not present a problem for determined landscape photographers it can present real problems for those looking to capture models especially if they prove to be ‘no shows’. Fortunately for me I spotted Jasmine T’s casting which was a request for photographers looking to capture the said ‘Magic Hour’ and not only did she choose me but she turned out to be every bit as good as her profiles (she has loads Purpleport, Starnow and Model Mayhem) dictate. Believe me, given the early start and it being a Sunday I did check out every one of her references.

I arrived a little late but still in good time (I blame a certain golden arches fast food restaurant and their long queues – I needed coffee). Still, I wasted no time and got us warmed up with a middle of the road shoot on Tower Bridge itself. I think she was a bit surprised at how eccentric I was, my main aim being not to waste any time. I was clicking away literally, measuring the light, checking the shots back and then making adjustments and then having us dashing back into the centre of the road to take more shots until I was happy.

The sun started to rise but then came another problem of why ‘Magic Hour’ shots can be so tricky. If the sky is cloudy you get no ‘magical light’ at all; magical meaning gold and red, instead all we got was erm…shades of grey. I felt rather disappointed that I was seeing nothing out of the way incredible. Fortunately Jasmine had a couple of places which were really local we could shoot which were largely unnoticed by the mainstream public and one of them we found by accident was a set of stairs which led down to the water’s edge. Bearing in mind the Five Key Points of Photography (which I will explain in another post) we were thankfully able to grab some really good shots.

The key lesson is always when life throws you lemons make lemonade and when I am faced with challenges I always think to myself are there any skills I can practice here or any way I can turn this image on its head. The results always surprise me.

Jasmine was a lovely girl to work with, really easy going, a ‘non-complainer’ which meant I could try stuff out. This is probably the first time I have ever been on a shoot and the model has bought me coffee which was a nice touch.  As soon as I got home I left her some fab references on all the sites I could find for her. It was great to know that on a couple of the sites she had done the same for me. So now this afternoon I have a birthday party to shoot (lots of coffee between now and then I assure you) and then a good night’s sleep before I am back to the grind again tomorrow.


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