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CINDY DAY: Warm light on a cold night

No filters here!  Golden light washed down over Kingston, N.S., and Papa Reg was there to capture its beauty. The "golden hour" at its best!
No filters here! Golden light washed down over Kingston, N.S., and Papa Reg was there to capture its beauty. The

Last Wednesday as I was driving home from work, the most amazing thing happened. For about 30 seconds, I felt like I was on the set of a movie. It sounds corny, but here’s what unfolded.

I was heading east at about 6:15 p.m. The clouds ahead of me were dark grey and light flurries were falling on my windshield. Then, without warning, an intense beam of light filled the car; it was gold, more gold than I had ever seen. What I saw in my rear-view mirror was breathtaking, the cars the overpass the buildings – everything seemed to be rimmed with a golden halo of light. I was, for the first time in my life, experiencing the “golden hour.”

The golden hour refers to a period just after sunrise or just before sunset; its duration depends on where you are, what time of year it is, and the weather conditions. It’s a special time for photography and photographers are quite aware of the magic of the golden hour.

The golden hour is all about light. The temperature of the light during this time is, as the name suggests, in the yellow range of the light spectrum. Without turning this into a chemistry lesson – light has a spectrum of temperatures that correspond to different colours of light. Think rainbow and ROY G BIV; on one side of the spectrum you have high-temperature blue light and on the other end you have low-temperature red light. When the sun is near the horizon, its light has to travel through more atmosphere than during other times of the day. The atmosphere filters out the blue light and makes the light appear more “orangy-yellow.”

During the golden hour, the temperature is in the yellow range, which gives the light that amazing, golden hue. 

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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