The Golden and the Blue
“For me, that’s when nature really comes alive. The colors have this soft but deep glow, and all the smells of nature permeate the air. It feels very special to be out at this time when all the plants and animals start to breathe more deeply. There’s a real peace…”
—Photographer Lena Jeanne, writing about the blue hour
Both Steve and my sister C are serious photographers. Steve taught film arts at St. Pius High School back in the day, and for years had a darkroom set up in our basement. Many were the Stevo publicity shoots for “Puss in Boots” and “Peter Pan.” Carolyn is a terrific artist who uses several media very effectively, including watercolors; her camera is an instrument for artistic expression too. Now, living in Hawaii, C takes magazine-worthy pictures of her beautiful island.
For a rank amateur (me), taking pix used to be a chore. I had to 1) locate my camera, 2) try to grab a shot before my subject (usually a child) wandered off, then 3) climb in the car and take the film somewhere to be developed. Sorting through old pictures recently, I found envelope after envelope from those small, drive-up one-hour photo kiosks (btw where did those Fotomat employees go, I wonder? Probably the same place the toll booth people went after COVID rendered them obsolete. We need to find them all other tiny huts to work in!!) I'd saved every snapshot, the blurry and the clear, along with endless strips of negatives. Why? Who knows? When I finished going through them, the trash can was filled with my mistakes.
I am really grateful for the technology these days that makes anyone with a phone a decent photographer. Blurry shots? Not happening! Accidental photos of someone’s big toe? Delete! Mind you, I rarely print my pictures anymore, so these gems reside on my iPhone and computer, but I know I have them if and when needed.
It never occurred to me to seek out the best TIMES of day to take outdoor photos (which explains why many of my pictures feature people squinting in noonday sun). Oh, I appreciated beautiful sunrises and sunsets captured on film by others, but I was too lazy/busy to go outside and take any myself.
I’ve been reading about the blue and golden hours, though, and I’m newly inspired to leave the house at dawn and dusk. “Twilight,” it turns out, is more than an entertainment franchise—it actually refers to the period just before full dark, also known as the “blue hour.” Its counterpart is the “golden hour,” just after sunrise, when the sky is gradually lightening up. These are perfect times to take pictures; everything is bathed in a delicate glow. Photography aside, appreciating blue and gold hours involves noticing the beauty of every moment. Nature is not a window shade, snapping up (sunshine!) and down (pitch black!) suddenly. Daybreak and nightfall unfold slowly, gentle harbingers of the next hours of our lives.
I have made no resolutions involving using fancy camera lenses and tripods—I’ll leave those to the experts. But as 2023 dawns (get it?) I resolve to open my eyes and notice much more of the amazing world around me, to truly and deeply experience the gold, the blue and everything in between. The magic that awaits us all.