It wasn’t the luckiest of weeks to have the 52 Frames challenge be about Golden Hour…
Golden Hour: the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky.
I had exactly one non-raining day here in South Carolina that week. One day. And even that was pretty unspectacular so it was Lightroom to the rescue. The first image (below) was almost golden straight out of camera, but I did a little bit of accenting the colors in Lightroom, as well as cropping to emphasize the s-curve of the marshland heading towards low tide.
That morning, I had headed out to the beach and was walking down the wooden ramp through the other marsh to the waves when something caught my eye. I stopped and turned around slowly to find this great blue heron staring at me. I cursed my bad luck at having a 55mm lens on my camera, thinking I was going for sunrise, not the zoom lens that would be better for photographing this guy. I appreciated his perfect stillness and willingness to model for me while I played with exposure settings.
Post-heron, I made it down to the beach only to find no clouds and a lot of wide open sky, which are not the best conditions for a stunning sunrise shot. I set the camera to shutter mode and kept decreasing the exposure until I got the sun as an indentifiable ball and then tried to keep that exposure and get some sunlight glinting off the water. I still needed a little Lightroom magic to overcome the bright light and make it more golden. In reality, it wasn’t nearly this golden.
Which got me to thinking… We each have our cherished memories, whether it’s that girls weekend with an old friend or a last conversation with a parent now departed. We burnish those memories over time, forgetting the bad, like the rain all that weekend or that you didn’t really listen to the same old story that last time. We enhance the good: the laughter as we toasted ourselves over dinner, the way the parent hesitated but then told you something you still remember in your heart of hearts.
That sunrise photo is the way I wanted to see the scene, but perhaps no one else saw it that way that day. Same with memories, isn’t it? My brother remembers one thing from a family event, I remember another. I remember what matters most to me, and he does the same. We each crop our memory, selecting the image that matches our reality. Those memories are the golden moments of our lives. If we’re lucky, they add up to a golden hour, and then another and another.
Over the last year, I’ve gone back to the family photo archive more than once, looking for a particular image or wondering when something happened. Being isolated from family and friends during the pandemic has got me thinking of my memories, polishing the ones that matter most, letting go of the difficult times I no longer want to remember. I’m still sad thinking of those who’ve gone from my life, but the memories and the photos remind me of the golden moments, and those are what I choose to cherish.
What are we, if not an accumulation of our memories?