Shooting: Kodak Ektar At Golden Hour
We’re running out of time…
If you’re a photographer in Canada, then like me, you might be feeling the impending doom of winter. With the change in season seemingly overnight, the sudden realization of how much time I have left before it snows really dawned on me.
I’m not saying that this has given me an extra pep in my step to get out the door and shoot more: that’s certainly not the case. This summer has been so busy “making hay while the sun shines” – getting projects done around the house while the weather is nice. As these projects come to an end, I’m exhausted and find myself gawking at the gorgeous evening light from my window.
I wrote an article a while back about inspiration and opportunity, and how sometimes you just don’t feel like shooting. Sometimes you start feeling burnt out and just need a break, and it can often be a healthy for your photography to do so. While I may feel like taking break and would like to just put the cameras on the shelf for a month or so, I can’t slow down the approaching winter.
In Canada, during the summer, the days are so long. The sun doesn’t start going down well after 9 or 10 o’clock pm, giving so much time in the day to take pictures. You can come home from work, have a shower, have some supper, and still have time to go out and shoot if you want. Canadian summers are quite precious.
However, with the days being so long, it deceives you in how much time you actually have. You feel like there’s no way summer can end. How could it? But before you know it, it’s the end of August and the wind blows in a chilly fall air, and the leaves change.
Along with this change in season comes shorter days. When golden hour use to be around 9:30 or so, it was suddenly at 9, then 8:30, then 8. So quickly, the day slips away before you know it and even quicker, now with the ushering in of autumn.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, fall is my absolute favorite season. This year, it’s been one the best autumns we’ve had in a while and I’m really looking forward to a beautiful October. There’s just something special about fall, and when Golden Hour hits, it’s breathtaking.
The two rolls I shot were at the end of August/Early September, so the colors of fall hadn’t really arrived yet. However, fall was certainly in the air and the daylight was changing fast, so I felt the urgency to get out and take some photos.
I’ve often heard people raving golden hour, seen the YouTubers worship it, and I’ve really admired the work that many photographers have made at that magical time of day. I’ve gotta say, it really is magic. The tones are so rich and with that warm cast of light, the colors are exactly what I want in my photos. What better film to capture it with than some Ektar 100.
I’ve shot Ektar 100 at golden hour before and it absolutely sings. It was the best results I had ever got from that film. Kodak Ektar has been a favorite of mine for quite a while as I love those deep, rich tones when I’m shooting color. While I’m attracted to the pastel palettes people get from Portra, I still crave the clean vibrance of Ektar and golden hour is just the time to unleash that from the film.
One of the difficulties of shooting Ektar at this time… is time. As I meantioned earlier, at this time of year, the light begins to drop very fast and before you know it, it’s almost too dark for 100 iso without a tripod. For the most part, I still shoot 35mm so I mainly prefer to handhold unless to shutterspeed is just too low (even then I’ll still got for it and hope for the best).
Yes, I know, I’m shooting landscapes, thus I should be using a tripod. Sometimes I do, but usually I’m slamming on my brakes and jumping out on the side of the road to take a shot. My landscape photography can be pretty fast pace as it’s generally off a highway, so a 100 iso can be a bit slow. That said, it’s still a perfect film for golden hour landscapes.
At golden hour, light can change dramatically from one minute to the next, especially if it’s partially cloudy. This, I find, can have very interesting effects on Ektar, causing colors to pop differently with each frame.
At first, I was frustrated when editing them in post: trying to get the photos to match was proving difficult for my limited photoshop skills. In the end, I just let it go, letting that be the beauty of the film, reacting to exposures differently and letting those colors sing when they wanted to.
Perhaps it was my exposure, the scan, or developing, being inconsistent. Or perhaps I’m just accepting that I’m lousy at consistency (most likely), but I don’t really care too much. I love both of these pictures the way they are.
I only had two rolls of Ektar left (a terrible predicament to find yourself in), and I really wanted to save them for golden hour. Seeing as the light was dropping so quickly and constantly fighting with the sun dropping behind clouds, it was often more like “Golden 5 Minutes”. So over a few days, a ran out of the door when I got the chance, right when the light was perfect.
It can be hard to have time to go out and be ready for when the light hits, so I took the opportunities I could. I live just off a highway that goes way out into the country, and it’s incredibly picturesque. As golden hour approached, I would pack up the family and go for a drive, enjoying the highway in such magical light – making as many stops and U-turns as they would allow me.
Ektar 100 will always be a favorite. It’s a very versatile film (in my opinion) and I’ve shot it in many different situations and have been pleased with it. However, I’ve somewhat struggled to find the perfect time to load it in my camera as I see my stock beginning to dwindle. Golden hour, for me, is my favorite time to shoot this film, and I plan on doing exactly that more in the future.
Thanks so much for reading! Please leave a comment below and let me know if you’ve ever shot Ektar and when your favorite time to shoot it is!