When you plan an outdoor photo session you have many things to take care of: location, people, gear, accessories, weather conditions, and so on. Logistics can be hard to handle, but this shouldn’t stop you thinking of the perfect conditions for your art. Photography needs good lighting conditions. It’s a must. Using artificial light might be a solution, but not always. In landscape photography especially, artificial light is not an option. Lighting conditions depend on location, geographic attributes, landscape features, time of year, and your intentions. Ask yourself what kind of atmosphere do you need in your pictures. Some photographers wait weeks for the perfect light. Here are some tips to help you choose the best time of day for outdoor photo sessions.
The Golden Hour
The Golden Hour is considered to be the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset. At this time of day, the sun is in a very low position and offers a soft and warm light. Having a low temperature, the light of the Golden Hour is almost orange and gives spectacular colors. This is a good time for any kind of photography, but landscapes are most favored. Long shadows, diffused light, details, and textures, these are the features of the Golden Hour. More than that, depending on the season, you can have special weather conditions, like mist or haze, hoar-frost, and dew.
Besides all the above advantages, the Golden Hour gives you an opportunity to photograph the sun with its best colors and shapes. It is the only time of day when you can do that. Sunrises and sunsets are the delights of every photographer.
A good moment for taking low-light pictures is after the sun has set. During twilight, there is enough light left to acquire good images, but it also the best time for atmosphere and stories. Low-light conditions can be used for tonal gradations. Be quick because Twilight doesn’t last too much. In low-light conditions, a tripod is a must.
In the afternoon, the sun’s color temperature begins to decrease. It will reach the lowest level at the sunset, but until then there is plenty of time for a photo session. Low color temperature offers a golden hue, very useful to enhance colors and to design silhouettes. With this subtle effect, the photograph is enhanced without being noticed. Choosing wisely the time of day for your photo session can save you post-processing time and energy.
When the sun is high in the sky it is harsh. The colors are less vivid, there is almost no shade, and it is very difficult to photograph the sky. But this is the moment of the day when you will have the sharpest pictures. This is the time to shoot large landscape photographs, postcards style. Use wide lens and polarizing filters. Pay attention to shape and color, as they have to really stand out to compensate the neutral light.