Steep mountain catching the sun
Landscape,  Lens-Artists,  Themed galleries

Gallery: glowing moments around the world

When the magic hour arrives, my thoughts centre on light rather than on the landscape. I search for perfect light, then hunt for something earthbound to match with it.

Galen Rowell, wilderness photographer

When the sun is low in the sky we may feel its heat a little less, but we see it more clearly. The glow of early morning, or just before sunrise, adds warmth to our images. They absorb and reflect its light, taking on a glow of their own.

It seems magical, but there is a scientific explanation for this. When the sun is at a lower angle, its rays filter through a greater distance and through a much thicker amount of atmosphere. Because blue light is scattered more strongly by the atmosphere, it tends to be deflected away in other directions before it gets to us. This leaves relatively more yellow and red light to reach our eyes, and our cameras. It also creates longer shadows, adding an extra dimension to our photos.

You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.

James M. Barrie

For Siobhan’s Lens Artists challenge this week, here is a selection of photos taken during those glowing golden hours.

Houses on a hillside and distant mountains caught by the sun

Evening view from the Old Inn in Bandipur, Nepal

Low cloud and a conical mountain

Volcan Arenal in the early morning, Costa Rica

Low sun reflected off a wooden jetty
Tall tree glowing red in the sun

Late afternoon in the countryside near Riga, Latvia

Looking up at yellow stone buildings with ornate details

Seville Cathedral in early morning light

Round fabric and grass building glowing in the sun

Yurt at a desert camp in Uzbekistan, just after sunrise

Low white building seen from the sea and castle on a rock catching the light

The Royal Palace, Muscat, Oman, just before sunset

[my feature photo was also taken in Oman, at Jebel Shams, soon after sunrise]

White houses by an iced-over pond

Low winter sun in Reykjavik

Low sun shining off the sea with snow-covered landscape

Late evening sun in Antarctica

View from a small boat of low sun reflected in water

Watching the sun start to set from a mokoro in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Sun glowing from behind a cloud and palm tree

Khimsar Fort hotel in the morning, Rajasthan

Ruined columns glowing orange and a castle on a hill

Palmyra at sunrise, Syria, in 1996

Brick temple glowing red in the sunlight

A temple at sunrise, Sarangkot, near Pokhara, Nepal


Domed building with sun shining through lattice windows

Gate of the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, just before sunset


  • leightontravels

    Inspiring images, Sarah. The seemingly reddish glow of the Riga tree is a favourite. And there are incredible colours and shapes abound in the shot from Khimsar Fort hotel. Oh and… duh… Antarctica. Magic hours indeed.

  • wetanddustyroads

    You have some really great photos here Sarah! The photo in Costa Rica, the one in Syria and of course the magical photo in Antarctica … wow, I think you must have glowed when you took these photos!

  • photobyjohnbo

    Your photos are on target and surely display the theme, Sarah. I am just about ready to publish my post tomorrow morning, and I was surprised how your opening photo is in many respects similar to mine.
    All of your landscapes are beautiful in themselves, but the golden hour glow on your architectural images, especially Seville, is spot on for the theme.

  • Monkey's Tale

    I love the yurt picture. We’re heading to Uzbekistan in a few weeks. I’ll have to look through your blog over the next few days for posts from there. Any recommendations?? Maggie

    • Sarah Wilkie

      It’s a long while since we were in Uzbekistan (2007) so I can’t help with detailed recommendations as places will have changed so much. Bukhara was my favourite city – less museum-like than Khiva, more ancient-feeling than Samarkand or Tashkent. Happy to answer any questions 😀

  • Alli Templeton

    This is a real treat, Sarah. Such inspiring photos that really do give the viewer a glow inside! I’ve often marvelled at the effect the light from the setting sun can have on trees in particular, and I’m noticing how the light greatly effects the appearance of the mountains here in Snowdonia and all the depths of colour and contour. Interesting scientific explanation of what happens to the light, and having seen some of the changes this can have on a landscape it does make sense, however I would never be able to capture the effects as well as you. I particularly love the views of Volcan Arenal and Antarctica, and of course those stunning trees in Latvia. Wonderful stuff! 🙂

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I’m really happy to have given you a glow Alli 😊 I can just imagine you’ll see all sorts of variations of light on the mountains as we move through the seasons, at different times of day and in different weather. I’m sure you’d be able to do a great job of capturing them and I’d love to see your new home area!


    Some fabulous shots, as others have said…but may I compliment your words too. Nice summing up of the romance of golden sunlight but love throwing in the scientific explanation too. Great shot of Seville cathedral – that place is hauntingly grand but wow it’s beautiful in that light.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Phil, I really appreciate those nice words 😊 I’m glad you like the Seville shot – it was a quick grab on our way to the bus stop on the morning of departure.

  • pattimoed

    Wow, wow. What a great collection, Sarah. I guess you’re an early riser! Your sunrises are beautiful. I especially loved the yurt image and the Antartic.

  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    Wow, Sarah. I think this is one of your most stunning collections, at least of the ones I’ve seen so far. This beautiful trip around the world is what I needed to start my week. Happy Monday.

  • Teresa

    Such awesome photos you have as usual. Sarah. but the Rajasthan sunlight seems unreal! Great job my friend!

    I am just wondering how come I always lose you…I always follow you then it is always gone?

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Teresa 😀 I think it’s something to do with the different accounts you use. Whenever you comment with the ‘My Wanderings’ url I need to approve it, for some reason!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you 😊 Despite the glow I was colder when I took the yurt photo than I was for the Antarctic shot – I was dressed appropriately for the latter but after a night in the yurt I’d crept out with my camera just as it got light, forgetting how cold deserts can be at night, in just a sleeveless top and shorts!

  • Wind Kisses

    I love the way you organized your post around the first quote and the golden hour. “Search for the light, then hunt…” I think I need to do that better. I get carried away with the “wow, look at that” moments. Your gallery is a reflection of your patience. Like the others, I love the Antartica photo. My favorites are the the pier in the river in Latvia, and the red-barked tree. Always a pleasure, Sarah.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I thought that quote was a useful one too, Donna, as I tend to do things the other way around, finding the subject matter rather than choosing according to the light. Thank you for the lovely comments 😊

  • Tina Schell

    I’m with Siobhan Sarah, the image from Antartica is breathtaking. Of course they’re all beautiful and if Antartica weren’t there I’d have gone with your closing image. Beautiful from start to finish

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Tina, I appreciate the compliment 😊 As I said to Siobhan, that Antarctica shot is an old one from 2003- I had to play around with it a bit to make it useable!

  • SoyBend

    I’m glad you were able to find so many photos to go along with the theme this week, Sarah. Wow! I liked the second photo of a peak wrapped in clouds. I also how the tree in Latvia glowed with a red light. I think my favorite was the one you took in Antarctica. The combination of light, reflections, and moving water was beautiful.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Siobhan, I’m so pleased you like my choices 😊 The Antarctica shot is an old one, from 2003, so needed a bit of love and care in editing to make it useable – I’m glad so many of you seem to think it was worthwhile!

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