A Lightricks Blog by Team Facetune

When Is The Best Time to Take Pictures Outside?

by Andrea Spanik / December 20, 2021

No doubt about it, natural, outdoor photography just tends to have a more lively and energetic feel about it.

I mean, no hate to anyone who prefers to shoot indoors, but in our books, you just can’t beat that warm, flattering, natural light that you get when you take your camera into the great outdoors.

If you’re on the same page as us, today we’re going to give you the inside scoop on taking photos outside—when’s the best time, what to avoid, and how to ensure those outdoor pics are as best lit as possible (even in those less than ideal conditions).

Are you ready to start snapping like a pro? Grab that camera, and let’s get going.

The best time to shoot outdoors:

Read any photography blog or article and you’ll hear endless tips about golden hour, golden hour, golden hour.

And honestly, there’s a good reason why those articles are so head-over-heels in love with golden hour: it just produces the most flattering and visually-appealing pics. Plain and simple.

So when exactly is this famous “golden hour” and how can you make sure you make the most of it in your photography?

Golden hour is considered the time right before the sun sets, or in the morning, right before the sun rises. Obviously this is going to change depending on the time of year and when the sun is rising/setting, but a quick look at the weather app on your phone and you can pinpoint exactly when the sun will set/ rise.


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A post shared by ✩ BREE LENEHAN ✩ (@breeelenehan)

Not so convinced that the golden hour selfie is everything that it is made out to be?

Trust us, look through your selfies. Do you have any that were shot in the morning or right before the sunset in the evening? Are those pics your favs?

Yeah, that’s what we thought.

Golden hour lighting gives your photo a warm and golden hue. It doesn’t “blow out” your pics with too much exposure, and it won’t leave your pics in the shadow. Nooooot what we’re going for here.

We would make a Goldie Locks reference here, but honestly, we think you probably get the point: Golden hour lighting is where it’s at when shooting pictures outdoors.

So how can you make the most of this popular time of day when you’ve got a photoshoot planned?

Here are 7 tips to help you shoot photos outside when the sun is right where you want it:

1) Utilize front light (i.e. have your subject directly face the light). Not only will this light them beautifully, but there’s no squinting involved (bonus!).

2) But they, backlighting also works during golden hour (there’s a good reason why golden hour is such a popular time to shoot photography; it’s so versatile!). When you shoot with backlighting, you’ll get a more hazy, glowing effect (hello, goddess vibes).

3) Try to capture a sun flare (i..e the colored halo that appears in pictures when you shoot a picture just so). It adds something to the picture, and just overall makes the image feel warm and inviting.

4) Always plan in advance. Golden hour will only occur on days where the sun isn’t covered by clouds. Proper planning can help ensure you’re not stuck shooting in overcast conditions.

5) Wide aperture is best for those fancy blurry backgrounds that we all know and love. Don’t forget to play with your settings in order to achieve the best golden hour photo possible.

6) Keep moving! Keep shooting! Like we said, with that sun constantly on the move, you’re going to have to break a sweat to keep up. Okay, fine, maybe you don’t need to actually start sweating (ew), but you should be constantly moving and shooting to avoid unflattering shadows and to get the best angels.

7) And hey, don’t forget about the power of editing your pics. I mean, obviously don’t crazy and bump up the contrast and brightness to unnatural levels (kind of defeats the whole purpose of shooting in natural light), but if you know what you’re doing, you can add some subtle, flattering effects with your editing.


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A post shared by JoJo Fletcher (@joelle_fletcher)

Outdoor photography golden hour challenges (and how to beat them like a pro)

Golden hour is good, but it’s not that good. It has its issues, but with some attention to detail, you can totally conquer those challenges and get the perfect golden hour pics you’ve been aiming for.

Here are some of the challenges associated with golden hour and how you can beat them:

1) Rapidly changing conditions 

When you’re shooting during golden hour, you’re basically working against the clock. That sun is quickly rising (or setting), and with that comes the struggle of shadows moving.


But also not impossible to combat.

Keep your eyes on the sun, know where it is in relation to you and your subjects, and get comfortable with having to quickly change your camera’s settings in order to achieve the best picture possible.

This skill might take some time and experience, but once you start shooting during golden hour more frequently, you’ll not only learn how to shoot specifically during this time, but it will also help you grow your photography skills in general.

2) Color saturation 

Let’s talk about that golden hue…

We love it. Truly, we do.

But, the biggest issue with golden hour lighting is it can sometimes be too golden.

Too golden? Is such a thing possible?

Trust us, it is, and it might not be super obvious as you’re shooting, but once you take a step back and look at your photos, you might start to feel like the lighting overpowers the subject.

The best way to combat this is to make sure you’re always making your subject the star of the show. Don’t get caught up in how pretty the lighting is, and instead always be willing to sacrifice some of that golden light for a better pic of the subject.

It’s hard, but in the long run, doing this is absolutely worth it.

How about blue hour photography?

Okay, but what if you can’t shoot at golden hour? Are your pictures doomed to be sub-par because you can’t make that golden hour lighting work? Do you have to entirely give up on your dreams of shooting outdoors if golden hour lighting isn’t available?

Obviously not!

You’ve got other options. Blue hour, in particular, is a popular one amongst photographers.

This time of day is right after the sun has set and right before it rises (i.e. dusk and dawn).

It doesn’t give your pics that same golden hue, but hey, maybe you’re not into golden light for your photo. Maybe you would prefer a bluer tint in your pics?

Blue hour is for you!

Known for helping give your pics a tranquil, peaceful, and relaxing vibe, blue hour might not have the same clout that golden hour does, but hey, sometimes taking a little step away from the majority can help make your pictures stand out in the best possible way.

Oh p.s. if you’re someone who enjoys shooting cityscapes, blue hour is ideally suited for this style of photography.

What if I have to shoot photos mid-day?

Okay, let’s be real, you probably don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn to take pictures, and you might not want to wait all day to catch that golden hour light. Totally understandable.

And hey, not to mention, sometimes you just don’t have the option to time your pics.

In these cases, you need to learn to make the best of the lighting you have, whatever comes your way.

Here are some helpful tips for those moments where you have to shoot mid-day:

1) Add a diffuser to your equipment bag. You can thank us later.

2) Look for open spaces and avoid tall buildings. These are what will give you those harsh shadows that we’re trying to avoid (taking photos around large bodies of water are great when you’re specifically seeking out areas without a lot of shadows).

3) Alternatively, seek out those dark corners that are largely in shadow (either go all out with the sun or all out with the shadow; there is no in-between here).

4) Keep your eyes on the sun and position your body accordingly (this is something you should always do even when shooting outdoors, regardless of what time it is; photography 101)

5) If you’re fancy, you can use actual lenses that go on your camera and put a filter directly over your image (kind of like an IG filter, but for photographers with a DSLR camera). This will help tone down some of the brightness.

6) Embrace the sun. I know we’re making the sun sound like the worst thing in the world for shooting photography, but let’s tone it down for a ‘sec. The sun isn’t always bad, and sometimes, when it’s unavoidable, simply embracing it rather than trying to hide from it can make for some beautiful, sun-filled photography.


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A post shared by Kaitlyn Bristowe (@kaitlynbristowe)

7) Don’t forget about the power of black and white. This style of photography is ideally suited for high contrast photos. And, when do you get the most contrast in your photos? You guessed it, mid-day! Try out black and white photography for an artsy take on your outdoor pics.

Are you ready to take your photography outdoors?

We know we made outdoor photography sound a little bit intimidating, but that’s what makes it exciting.

With outdoor photography, you constantly have to be on your toes, battling weather conditions, playing with lighting, and working hard to get those best angles.

If you’re lucky enough to enjoy the beautiful golden hour lighting, we hope we’ve given you some tips to help make the best of it.

And, in those moments where golden hour is just not available to you, we also hope you’re feeling confident here.

Outdoor photography can be friend or foe, but with these tips in your back pocket, we’re hoping you’re feeling warm and tingly about capturing some pics in the great outdoors.

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