Waiting for Dawn - Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier and Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Many photographers stumble out of bed well before dawn to shoot sunrises during the time known as the "golden hour". This time is typically when the sun peeks above the horizon each morning and casts a very soft light that takes on wonderful colors of red, orange, yellow and sometimes purple( and the colors change very rapidly). The length of an hour is not literal. It can last shorter or longer depending on the season, latitude and the sun's altitude. Sunset also has "golden hours".

It is clear from this photo of Mount Rainier that is was not taken during the "golden hour". This was taken before sunrise during, you guessed it, the "blue hour". The blue hour actually occurs during the twilight, when the red light of the sun passes into space and the blue light is scattered into the Earth's atmosphere. It is a great time to take photos, but it requires photographers to get to locations even earlier than sunrise, many times a good hour before.