Excursion 15, Part 4 (The Golden Hour)

In which our intrepid hero finds himself homeward bound as a long day winds down…

This blog is all about journeys and explorations.  Most visibly, it is about me exploring different parts of Ohio and recording what I see.  It is also about me exploring photography itself and trying to become a better photographer, despite my inherent limitations (such as considerable impatience).   I have been trying to educate myself on cameras, on photography, and, more recently, on post-processing and HDR.  From the vantage point of this writing, in early February 2014, some six months after these photographs were taken, I have seen improvement on my part and I hope there will be more.

Landscape photographers like to refer to the early morning or the time around sunset as “golden hours,” because the light is a soft, warm light that lends itself to attractive photographs, and because the dynamic range of light at those hours is close to what cameras can naturally reproduce.   An alien anthropologist who studied Earth only through its landscape photography might be forgiven for thinking that Earth was a planet of perpetual sunset.

[Remember that you can click on each image below to see a larger, better image]

Though great for professional or amateur photographers with skill, “golden hour” was not so great for me as a novice photographer in the spring and summer of 2013, because I was still largely unfamiliar with taking photographs in low light situations.  As a result, I tended to put my camera away and begin to drive home as daylight waned.  However, what I found was that some interesting or gripping sight would grab me and I’d end up pulling my camera out of its bag again, wanting to capture what I saw, even at the risk of a bad photograph.  This led me to discover, essentially on my own, the magic of the “golden hour,” because some of these photographs really appealed to me.  By late 2013 I was discovering the utility of software programs like Adobe Lightroom to help me improve these images.

You can see this for yourself in Parts 4 and 5 of this, my 15th excursion into the wilds of Ohio.  As I headed back home to Columbus from Steubenville, there was not much daylight left, but I was able to take some photographs that, to me at least, are quite aesthetically appealing.  I hope this is a sign of even better images to come in the future!


Here’s an image primarily to establish a geographic starting point.  I took this image of the Alameda Inn initially because I thought it might actually be an old motel of some sort, but it turned out just to be a restaurant in Hopedale, Ohio.  Hopedale (population 950, salute!) is a hamlet a county west of Steubenville.


Like much of eastern and southeastern Ohio, this region is being transformed by the fracking boom.  Here we see the countryside being torn up in order to install a pipeline.  Throughout 2013, I would see signs of the influence of fracking whenever I ventured into the eastern regions of the state.


The countryside in this part of Ohio is dotted with a number of small lakes, some of them rather swampy, as with this example.


As a son of the desert, I remain fascinated by things swampy.


Down the road from Hopedale is the village of Cadiz (population 3,353), a county seat.   If you are thinking that this mural looks a little, well, Gone with the Wind-y, you can be forgiven for that.  The mural actually does depict Clark Gable, who was actually born in this village.  His father, appropriately, drilled oil wells in eastern Ohio.


As I was leaving Cadiz, I chanced upon this large—and seemingly unfinished—mural on the side of a business.  I am pretty sure that this mural is about Paul Bunyan, though I am not sure why.  But this is a perfect example of the sort of odd little thing that you tend to see when you start driving around the roads less traveled.


Some more oil/natural gas stuff.  This seemingly new construction looks like maybe it is a pumping station of some sort.


Here’s a modest little shot of an eastern Ohio valley.  You can see the round bales of hay in the background of the valley.


This house is dilapidated now but once it was quite impressive.  It was built in the days when houses were not all cookie-cutter residences but had individuality and character.  Driving around modern suburban neighborhoods is usually so depressing, because the buildings all look alike—even when not identical, they are all of a piece.  But this house, with its grand porch and imposing structure, is one of a kind.


So is this house.  This is a house with character.  Sadly, they don’t build ‘em like this anymore.


They don’t really build them like this, either.  Because of the foliage, you may not be able to figure out very easily what this is, but this is a small geodesic dome cabin.  Geodesic domes just sometimes seem to pop up out of nowhere.


Here’s a golden hour photograph—my favorite of this set.  The setting sun produces a beautiful illumination on the field in the mid-ground and background.  Moreover, the different colored foreground grass, combined with the trees and the hay bales, create a great image of depth.  No, there’s nothing exciting about this photograph, but to me it is tremendously satisfying.


Here’s another interesting shot, with some trees and a fence silhouetted against the horizon.  The furrows on the ground provide an interesting texture, further enhanced by the long shadows.


I think this image also looks quite effective in black and white, though in this case it is possible to mistake the ground for a ploughed, unplanted field.


This is another favorite shot of mine from this set.  A little old barn, perfectly framed by the trees and the flowers in front, lit by that wonderful “golden hour” sunlight.


This is a much newer house than some of the other residences that I presented earlier (built in the 70s, maybe?), but it too has individuality.


We’ll close out this group of photos with this shot of a pleasant little farm.

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