The perfect time of day to take pictures!
We as photographers are seekers of light. It's presence presence and how it presents, let's us know what we need to do in order to bring a vision to life and time of day can have a huge impact on light and it's quality. One of the most common questions we get is 'what is the best time of day to take pictures?' It's a great question and with careful planning, you can easily make sure your pictures have just the look you're likely going for. If you've ever taken pictures before, dabbled in photography, or gotten outdoor photos, then you've likely heard of 'the golden hour'. But what is the golden hour? And why is this the ideal time?
Golden hour is the approximate hour before sunset! It's great because this time of the day provides a nice soft natural light that will enhance the look of your photos. To keep it simple, you are trying to avoid the harsh sunlight of the day when the sun is at it's highest (i.e. noon and even times of the year between 10-5). This harsh light can create issues with skin tones, white balance, and squinting, all things that are going to make your final images suffer. By shooting during the hour leading up to sunset, there's still enough light in the sky to illuminate shadows (especially on the face) but it's coming in at an angle and intensity that's favorable for beautiful photos similar to the picture of Tristan and Jamie above taking in the amazing landscape during their engagement photos.
Something else cool about this hour is the light differs at the beginning of the hour vs the end (more so than other times of the day). This is important as it will also affect the look of your photos, but as a photographer it also allows us to do get a little artistic and harness the light like only our cameras can. Earlier in the hour, the sun will typically be a little brighter and sometimes will just seem to pop right out of the sky. With a little angle adjustment you can create a fun feeling like the picture below of Tristan and Jamie. If you like golden sunny hazes with sunspots (I know we do) this one is for you :)
Just mere seconds later, and with a little adjustment of aperture, ISO, and angle, we were able to capture the deep passion these two share but with a completely different look.
Getting these different looks with ease is not impossible during the harsher lit times of the day, but it's certainly not as fluid from shot to shot. Shooting at this time allows us as professionals the ability to capture and create different moments and feelings within seconds of each other giving the couples we work with a more complete depiction of their journey. Lighting during this time allows for that dynamic shift.
As the sun begins to wind down, fear not, this is a good thing, remember how we were saying the light changes throughout? Now that the sun is almost down, you have the ability to create images with a naturally cooler feel. Not to mention your sky may have gone from a warmer mix of color to a cooler mix as well like in our images below. Though the sun is almost down, we still have plenty of light and color. The layers of blues, yellows, and pinks blend together beautifully and separate softly. Jamie and Tristan share in their moment as the sun goes down.
So remember, whether you're getting engagement photos, planning your wedding, or just trying to take some fun images of your family. Time of day is usually key! Exceptions to the rule can be cloudy days, shade, and sunrise, but depending on your location that might always be feasible. Also, make sure to research the sunset time of the day you are planning to get photos, as well as consider what your elevation is. If you are down in a valley surrounded by mountains and trees, a sunset time of 8:30 is really more like 8 or earlier in your case. Just as if you are on top of a mountain like in the previous photos, you are able to use every last minute. Carefully considering all these factors will no doubt lead to great photos!
Joe & Jenny