Time Of Day

By Andrew Hudson

By Andrew Hudson Published: May 25, 2011 Updated: May 3, 2013

The most important element to many great photographs is the lighting. Warmth, depth, texture, form, contrast, and color are all dramatically affected by the angle of the sunlight, and thus the time of day. Shooting at the optimum time is often the biggest difference between an ‘amateur’ and a ‘professional’ shot.

In the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun is low, the light is gold and orange, giving your shot the warmth of a log fire. Professional photographers call these the ‘magic hours’ and most movies and magazine shots are made during this brief time. It takes extra planning, but saving your photography for one hour after sunrise, or one to two hours before sunset, will add stunning warmth to your shots.

Plan Your Day

Assuming a sunrise at 6am and sunset at 7pm, and that your spouse/kids/friends suddenly give you the reverence and servility you so obviously deserve, a good day might be:

5am: Pre-dawn: A pink, ethereal light and dreamy mist for lakes, rivers and landscapes.

6-7am: Dawn: Crisp, golden light for east-facing subjects.

7am-10am: Early morning: The city comes to life; joggers in the park.

10-2pm: Midday: The sun is too harsh for landscapes and people, but perfect for monuments, buildings and streets with tall buildings.

2pm-4pm: Afternoon: Deep blue skies with a polarizer.

4pm-6:45pm: Late Afternoon: Terrific warm, golden light on west-facing subjects. Best time for landscapes and people, particularly one hour before sunset.

6:45 — 7:30pm: Sunset: Great skies 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after sunset.

7:30-8pm: Dusk is great for skylines, while there’s still a purple color to the sky.

9pm: Night shots, or go to bed — you’ve got to be up early tomorrow!

How To Predict A Rainbow

Rainbows are scientific phenomena which can be accurately predicted. A rainbow occurs when sunlight passes through a fine spray, such as at the base of a waterfall, and is refracted into its component colors — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

You can see rainbows in Yosemite at the base of Vernal Fall and Bridalveil Fall in the late afternoon, when you’re standing directly between the fall and the sun. A circular halo will form with a 42 degree radius, around a point exactly opposite the sun.

Copyright 1997–2007 Andrew Hudson for PhotoSecrets / Photo Tour Books, Inc. You may reproduce this article for personal, educational, non-commercial and non-Internet use, such as in a local photo club newsletter or school project. No Internet publishing is permitted. For commercial use, please email me for permission.

Add Your Comment



Email (optional):

Submit your comment: