Ever wonder how your favorite photographers always manage to capture the most gorgeous, soft-looking light? Look no further! We’ve got a few simple tips for choosing the best time of day to photograph, especially outdoors.
First, consider photographing during what we call “the golden hour”. You may have heard photographers mention this before – this period is the first hour just following sunrise and the last hour just before sunset each day. At both of these times, the sun is lower in the sky than we’re used to during mid-day, which produces softer shadows and a beautiful, glowing light outside.
One thing to keep in mind if you’re shooting during the golden hour is that you may run into some low-light obstacles. If you have a camera with P mode, use it so that your camera does more of the work for you! If you notice blurriness, increase your ISO to avoid that. (Make sure you lower the ISO after you’re done shooting so you don’t get wacky results the next time you take out your camera.)
You may want to experiment with a tripod as another way to eliminate blur, but that’s by no means a requirement.
Often, beginner photographers assume that the best time to take photos outdoors is in the afternoon, when the sun is brightest and highest in the sky, on a cloudless day. It’s counterintuitive, but this is actually one of the worst times to photograph, especially if you’re taking photos of people! Direct sunlight causes very harsh shadows and lots of contrast, which can be unflattering for people’s faces and frustrating for the photographer!
Instead, consider photographing on overcast or slightly cloudy days. The light will appear much more even and won’t create distracting shadows or super bright highlights. If you have to shoot in direct sunlight, one solution to try is turning on your flash. This will fill in those harsh shadows on the face.