Best Time of Day to Take Pictures Outside

If you are wondering what is the best time of day to take pictures, think about what kind of photos you like the most. You need to take into account the lighting at different times of the day to ensure that there will be plenty of light in the frame.

While many beginner photographers mistakenly believe that the golden hour is the best time for shooting photos, it’s hardly suitable for all photography genres. Read on if you want to learn how to select the most suitable time for taking photos.

What Are the Best Hours to Take Pictures in Natural Light

When taking photos outside, you need to take the natural lighting into account and think about what mood you want to capture. This is why it’s crucial to think about what results you want to achieve.

1. Golden Hour for Portraits in Warm, Diffused Lighting

best time of day to take pictures golden hour

You can take photos one hour after sunrise or before sunset if you want to capture sunlit landscapes with a golden tint. At the golden hour, the sun is pretty low above the horizon, which makes lighting softer and warmer. It’s a great time to take pictures, especially if you specialize in portrait photography.

Since there are no harsh shadows, you can practice golden hour photography without worrying that your portrait will get ruined because of lighting. Besides, there is no need to use additional equipment to take decent photos. Soft lighting is quite flattering for all people, so you can capture great shots that will leave your clients satisfied.

best time of day to take pictures golden hour

Many landscape photographers like taking photos during the golden hour since they can capture the magical atmosphere of the locations that they visit.


If you don’t know how to select the best time to take pictures, try using apps to learn more about different types of lighting, like The Photographers Ephemeris or Sunseeker. You can also install weather apps on your smartphone and use handy sunset calculators to select the best time for a photo session by taking into account the location.

2. Blue Hour for Cityscapes and Nature Shots

best time of day to take pictures blue hour

When talking about the blue hour, photographers refer to the time that occurs 20 to 30 minutes just after sunset and just before sunrise. At this hour, the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon line, which allows taking photos in ambient light. If you take pictures at this hour, your photos will acquire a bluish tint. Since this time doesn’t last long, you’d better hurry up when taking photos outside.

By taking photos during the blue hour, you can create a peaceful atmosphere in the frame. This time is perfect for taking outdoor photos in locations where there aren’t many people outside. If you like twilight photography, you can practice nature photography at the blue hour and take stunning shots of winter landscapes and water bodies. The light reflecting from the water surfaces will give your photos a magical feel.

best time of day to take pictures blue hour

Besides, this time is perfect for urban photographers. At this time, you can capture beautiful cityscapes with orange and yellow lights. Thanks to the sharp contrast between the ground and the lights, your pics might acquire a mesmerizing look.

Besides, this time is great for painting with light. This photography technique allows you to take stunning shots and fully transform the way the locations look like. Before using it, make sure to learn more about twilight photography.

3. Midday for Landscape Shots

best time of day to take pictures midday

It’s generally believed that twelve o'clock in the middle of the day is not the best time for taking photos outdoors. This is why many photographers avoid it as much as possible.

While wedding photographers don’t have much choice when it comes to selecting the time of a shooting, they strongly advise couples against selecting this time.

However, a photographer who enjoys taking photos of urban life, might not mind venturing outside at noon. Besides, this time will be perfect for anyone interested in landscape photography. At midday, you can take great photos of water bodies without any sign of blur.

best time of day to take pictures midday

If you still need to take portrait photos at this photography time and it’s impossible to re-schedule a shooting, you can minimize harsh shadows by using a reflector. With it, you can make the subject’s face evenly lit. You can also try finding a shadowy area and taking photos there.

However, there is no need to fret even if you haven’t selected the best time of day to take photos since you can fix the lighting issues during editing. If you have never edited your photos before or aren’t sure that your skills are advanced enough, make sure to contact our professional service.

We will tweak colors, fix exposure and contrast as well as perform other adjustments to fully transform the atmosphere in the frame. Our service has a quick turnaround, so you will get your edited photos back in no time.


If you haven’t bought a reflector yet, you can use some reflective objects of light colors. They will help you ensure that the model’s face is fully lit. For instance, you can use a sheet of paper, walls, tables, and even sand if you take photos at the seaside.

4. Mid-Morning and Afternoon for Headshot and Street Photos

best time of day to take pictures midmorning and afternoon

If you like headshot photography, you might need to take photos in even lighting to make them look more official. Try taking shots in the middle of the morning and afternoon, around 8-10 a.m. and noon-6 p.m. Even if you take such photos outdoors, you won’t need to worry about any shadows or lighting issues that might spoil a shot.

When taking photos at sunset, you can capture red and orange tones. However, if you shoot at noon, you will be able to take photos with beautiful yellow light. This time is perfect for taking portrait photos since the face of a model will get a golden look. For a better effect, try using a reflector board. You can opt for a silver or white reflector to minimize the yellow tint or use a gold reflector to flatter a model’s complexion.

best time of day to take pictures midmorning and afternoon

Many professional street photographers like taking photos at this time of the day since it allows them not to worry about lighting. You can capture stunning photos of people on the streets in the middle of the morning and afternoon as well.

5. Night Photography for Urban Locations and Astrophotography

best time of day to take pictures night

Shooting at night, you might face some issues with lighting. The photography time between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. is considered to be quite challenging even for professionals. However, you can try implementing a variety of night photography ideas that don’t work during the day.

At night, everything might seem too still and quiet, which makes this time perfect for urban photography enthusiasts. If you decide to take photos of the city at night, you may be able to capture the nightlife, with all its secrets and mysteries.

best time of day to take pictures night

Besides, this time is perfect for astrophotography. You can take photos of celestial bodies and the starry night. Don’t forget to buy a lens for astrophotography to take the best shots.

best time of day to take pictures night

When taking portrait photos at night, you might capture sharp shadows that emphasize the facial features of the subject. Experiment with different light sources, like neon signs, if you want to practice neon photography and take stylish shots for your portfolio. Make sure to take RAW photos since it will be easier for you to edit them later.


Try setting the lens aperture to f/1.2-4 when you take photos at night as it will allow more ambient light to go through.

Bonus Tools

bonus tools for photography

If you want to save time spent on editing, try using this set of tools that were created for enhancing photos taken in natural lighting. With them, you can give your images a unique look by tweaking colors, adjusting contrast and exposure.