Natural Light: What is the best time of the day to shoot?


Natural Light: What is the best time of the day to shoot?

UK local hero Jacob James is a young and talented travel photographer who will be sharing with you a series of 8 weekly articles entitled An Introduction to Photography – in the sixth article of the series Jacob discusses how to find the best time of the day to photograph.

As the sun moves across the sky during the day the quality and colour of the light can vary. The best type of light generally occurs around sunrise and sunset but this doesn’t mean that you are only restricted to shooting during those hours. Understanding how the light changes will hopefully allow you to be in the right places at the right time to get that killer shot!

Midday Sun

Midday sun is the harshest type of natural light. This is particularly true of clear days when the sun has no clouds to diffuse (scatter/spread) the light. Shadows will be at their most prominent and getting great images can be difficult. When shooting landscapes or architecture, if possible try and wait for cloud cover or come back later in the day when the sun is lower in the sky. If you are shooting portraits look for an area of shade to soften the light and produce more pleasing shadows on your subjects face.

Jacob James_Hsipaw_Myanmar_1


Shooting in the early morning or late afternoon generally gives you nice all round light to photograph in. As the sun lowers in the sky, the shadows become longer and slightly less harsh giving a nice shape and form to your photographs. The only downside is that the light can be a little boring compared with golden hour and twilight shooting. If you have a small amount of clouds in the sky, this light can be perfect for photographing portraits outside, the softer lights gives images a much more pleasing look.

Jacob James_Newcastle-Upon-Tyne_United Kingdom_1

‘The Golden Hour’

The golden hour is the holy of grail of lighting for most photographers. The golden hour typically occurs around an hour before sunsets and one hour just after sunrise. The sun’s extremely low position gives soft warm light and long diffused shadows. This light is ideal for portraits and landscapes as the warmth and softness of the light really helps give your images a special touch which is characteristic of this time of the day.

Sunset Prayers

Twilight/Early Hours

The half an hour before sunrise and after sunset can be the most spectacular times of the day for landscape shooting. With no direct sun the entire sky can become a soft diffused light source. It is also common for the sky to give spectacular colours at this time which will help to take your landscape images to the next level. It is especially important to insure that the WB on your camera does not try to render the colours as neutral otherwise the spectacular sky in front of you will appear dull and lifeless in your images.

Jacob James_Budapest_Hungary_1

Please post your feedback, questions and views on this article or related topics and we will do our very best to answer them for you!

Look out for Jacob’s next article in the 8-part series: ‘Fantastic looking images with your iPhone and KLYP’.

For more information visit Jacob’s blog at: http://jacobjamesphotography.co.uk or Twitter: @JacobJamesPhoto

Our Brands