Artist have know about the golden hour(s) long before photography was developed. They realised that the intensity (and purity) of light transformed for a short period each day. Whilst is wasn’t until the British water colourists and later the French impressionist really focussed on painting en plein air, that the power of this magical lighting became recognized, and popular with the general public.
I enjoying trying to capture the evening light in a sketch. It can be a challenge because the colour and atmosphere can be fleeting, seldom long enough to mix more than a couple of colours. Last night I could not find a pen or pencil at hand so I only had time to try and capture the tone and colour with a few simple washes (no line work).
Comparing this with the photograph (below) taken immediately before the one of my sketch (on the left) my sketch might look pale and lack detail, but it definitely gives me a stronger sense of the moment, the descending cool and echo of bird calls. I also didn’t have a telephoto lens at hand so the sketch is just a tiny part of what I photographed in the failing light.
I’m very unlikely to formally paint this image or sell a photograph of it. However in the scheme of things, understanding light and knowing what I am actually seeing is more important. I feel the sketch, even though it just a couple colour washes, is likely to help better recall the scene. More importantly it highlights that we should not always assume a photograph straight from the camera is always the perfect record of what we saw.