One “Golden Hour” You’ll Want to Skip

by Madeline Pado

You may know of the “Golden Hour” as it refers to the hour of golden light, just before the sun sets. It is a magical time of the day for photographers to capture images bathed in a soft warm glow. It is also the window of time someone has to get to medical attention after a venomous bite from some of Arizona’s desert dwellers.

Our trip leaders got a little lesson on the undesirable golden hour during a CPR/First Aid class last weekend, led by members of the Phoenix Fire Department. The instructor reminded us that rattlesnake bites and scorpion stings can be fatal if medical attention isn’t received within an hour. And once a Gila Monster clamps down, you’re locked into a painful grip. With the arrival of spring, these critters are out of winter hiding and on the move.

So the next time you are photographing in Arizona’s amazing desert landscape, be on the lookout for dangerous critters so you can avoid this golden hour. Don’t stick your hands in dark places—such as cracks in rocks or underbrush—and remember to always watch your step. If you come upon a rattlesnake, you will likely hear it’s rattle first. Stop and back up slowly. A rattlesnake can typically strike as high and far as half of its length.

If you want to get a good look at these critters, check them out in a captured environment. We offer two different photography workshops where you can photograph these critters in natural environments. Trip Leader Jeff Insel took the below photograph of a rattlesnake in an aquarium at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on our Desert Experience workshop earlier this month. After submitting a handful of photos to The Arizona Republic, this one was selected for publishing. Even though the snake was not in the open outdoors, Jeff managed to get this great photo by hand holding his Sony A65 with an 18-200mm lens against the aquarium glass.

40mm, f5.0, 1/60 sec and ISO 100, no flash
40mm, f5.0, 1/60 sec and ISO 100, no flash

We also offer a Creepy Crawly Critters workshop where our sole focus is photographing Arizona’s venomous and nonvenomous critters. With licensed Arizona Game and Fish Animal Wrangler Randy Babb and wildlife photographer Bruce Taubert as our guides, we get up close and personal with the “scary” Gila Monsters, scorpions, rattlesnakes and more in a controlled environment. We take these critters into their natural desert environments to capture realistic photos of them. In these workshops you won’t have to worry about risking the medical golden hour and you’ll have a chance to get amazing photographs of otherwise hard-to-photograph critters.