What times of day provide the best natural photography lighting?
If you’ve ever had your picture taken by a professional photographer, chances are that you’ve heard the word “lighting” tossed around. This is because the lighting is one of the most critical components of digital photography, and can make or break the quality of photos that are taken. For everything to be perfect- the moment feels right, the photograph subjects are naturally happy, and the backdrop is beautiful- only to have inadequate lighting ruin the photos can be quite painful.
The lighting can usually be adjusted in various ways inside, but not so much outside. When you’re taking pictures outdoors, you simply have to wait for the right time of day, when the sun is in the right position.
So, what is the right time of day? Which times of day provide the best natural lighting for outdoor photography?
Early Morning Photography Lighting
One of the best times of day for outdoor photography is right at the start of it. When the sun is about to rise above the horizon at dawn but has not quite done so yet, you get an introductory band of light that’s perfect for shooting photos. This natural daybreak lighting is perfect because it turns the sky a beautiful shade of steel-blue. If you missed your chance to take pictures before or during the sunrise, though, don’t fret- you’ll now get to experience the magic of the Golden Hour.
The Golden Hour is a bit of a misnomer because it doesn’t always last an hour. The closer to the equator you live, the shorter it actually is. Regardless, this magical time of day is named the Golden Hour because the sun’s rays pass through a greater portion of the atmosphere, which creates a warmer natural color.
For the best results here, we recommend using a higher ISO and a slower shutter speed.
Mid-Afternoon Photography Lighting
Another great time for outdoor photography is in the middle of the afternoon, about an hour or two before sunset. The sun is on its way down, which can cast some truly awe-inspiring shadows, and while the temperature of the sun’s color isn’t as warm as in the Golden Hour, it’s still warm enough to create a pretty glow. The only disclaimer here is to not have your subjects facing the sun, as it’s going to be difficult for them to refrain from squinting at the camera.
With more natural light available, you can use a lower ISO and a faster shutter speed.
Evening Photography Lighting
As far as outdoor photography is concerned, sunset is essentially a reprise of the sunrise but played in reverse. You’ll have a second chance to nab some great pictures while nature simply does its thing. The warm colors presented by the Golden Hour will soon fade into twilight, where you’ll have one final chance to capture the light of day as the sun sinks behind the horizon.
As is the case with the early morning, a higher ISO and a slower shutter speed are your best bets for taking pictures in the evening.