The Best Time To Take Pictures Outside: A Complete Guide

Many people who want to take pictures outside end up disappointed because they don’t know the best time to take a picture. There is a specific time that makes for high-quality photos, and it’s not always at night or in the morning.

This article will give you all the information you need to shoot so your pictures come out as well as possible. You’ll find tips on what type of photography you should be shooting, the atmosphere you need, the weather to look for, and how much light is ideal. 

sunset in oia santorini
Sunset in Oia Santorini

What’s the best time to shoot landscape photography?

The perfect time for landscape photography often occurs in “the magical hours.” Magic Hours combines Golden and Blue Hour. Golden hour takes place twice daily, at sunrise and sunset.

The blue hour is also called civil twilight. Twilight is when the sun is below the horizon, and the sky has a blue/magenta hue. It usually begins shortly before sunrise or after sunset and depends on the weather conditions of the moment.

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What’s the best time to take pictures outside in Summer and Spring?

Magic hours are the best time to take photos during the summer and the spring. Although in landscape photography, the golden hour is ideal. Middays during spring and summer produce bright light washed skies.

You may notice more prominent flaws when you take photographs during the highest sun hours. Light is soft early in the morning, and early evenings, so they are an excellent time for photography.

In a warm environment, it is great to photograph the spring flowers. I sometimes prefer golden hours, even when I’m shooting portraits.

stone bridge in vikos gorge

Best time to shoot outside during the fall season?

The best time for shooting outdoors in autumn is sunrise. Sunrise is an ideal source of light to the autumn colors. The warm nights make the morning mist more beautiful to photograph.

You can produce dazzling compositions with fog and early morning mist in forests and woodlands.

The combination of the lighting during sunrise creates spectacular fall pictures. Sunset is likewise an excellent choice. On fall days, however, the temperatures can be lower at night.

Best time to shoot in winter

While photographing in winter, sunrise is a great choice. The hours after sunrise are also good to photograph landscapes with the right light throughout the day. Sunset produces warmer light that can help show off textures and details of landscapes during the winter season.

Another photo opportunity exists on days with lots of snowfall or foggy conditions. Fog gives isolated scenes a soft and delicate atmosphere. It also offers landscapes a mystical look as light penetrates through the mist.

Golden Hour Photography

You may hear photographers say what an incredible time to photograph outdoors is during the golden hour. Which time of year is golden hours? This period can generally take place immediately before sunrise or after sunset.

The sun’s position is lower in the sky. The light is soft and flattering and has a yellow or orange color. The golden hour is, also known as “the magic hour,” is ideal for almost any type of photography, including landscape, portrait, food, or nature.

landscape photo of Mount Olympus in Greece
Panoramic landscape photo of Mount Olympus

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Morning golden hour

The golden hour at sunrise is different from just before sunset. This means that it’s an excellent time to take pictures outdoors.

The difference between the two periods will be in lighting and color temperature. It’s a perfect time for taking photos of landscapes because the light is often soft, and the colors are warm.

During the first minutes of the morning, the light is soft and warm. There are no shadows in the foreground of scenic images to create depth. Colors become more generous as the sun rises higher in the sky.

Sky often turns red during this period, creating beautiful compositions with warm light. The first 30 minutes of the golden hour are ideal for landscape and nature photography.

After about 40 minutes into the morning golden hour, shadows appear on landscapes. Soft lighting continues, but there are subtle differences between this period and when it just begins.

Evening golden hour

The evening golden hour also lasts for about 40 minutes. The lighting is the same as during the morning golden hour, but colors become cooler. On sunny days, some beautiful purple and blue tones may appear in the sky.

The first period of the evening golden hour before sunset is an excellent time to take pictures outdoors. It’s similar to the first half-hour of the golden morning hour. Shadows are long, but the lighting is still soft and warm.

At the end of the golden hour, light is often warmer than during any other period. This means that it can create orange or pink tones on photos of whatever you shoot outdoors. Colors may appear more saturated than earlier in the evening.

landscape photo during sunset

Shooting during golden hour and using natural light

Golden hour lighting can be controlled easily with a few adjustments or simply with a reflector. This makes it a favorite among natural-light photographers.

Try a different lighting direction: backlight, sidelight, or front light, and determine which looks best.

Reflection is an absorbing mechanism that bounces light and blocks undesirable light from the light sources. Backlighting is popular if you want to capture silhouettes.

Warm, gorgeous, and happy light for portrait photography

Golden hour ambient light produces a warm and soft glow ideal for shooting portraits. It allows photographers to avoid harsh shadows often found during the mid-day.

You can also use a reflector to fill light in your subject. In this way, shooting portraits outdoors is possible using only natural light.

sunset in Thessaloniki, Greece

Challenges of Shooting During Golden Hour

The golden hour may be the most controlled time in the shoot, but it isn’t an easy walk into the park! Directional illumination is essential to understand. Composition is also very crucial in outdoor photography.

Too much background lighting can make the subject’s appearance less visible and without contrast. Strong backlighting can cause problems with your metering system too. The front light may be harsh and flat without interest.

A pelican fly over the lake
Dalmatian pelican is landing in the lake

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How about blue hour photography?

Like a golden hour, blue hour is also ideal for outdoor photography. However, unlike the warm light of the former, the latter is cold and produces a crisp look to your images. Blue lighting can be complicated to manage, so you must know what you are doing before taking shots during this period.

Blue hour usually occurs just after the golden hour and lasts for about 20 minutes. It is better to go outside 30 minutes before blue hour begins so you can shoot efficiently without much rush.

Please note that since ambient light is dim during this time, it makes your images look very dark and underexposed. The use of long exposure is beneficial.

It also produces a solid blue color in photographs, so be wary of your white balance settings to avoid turning your shots green!

Use artificial light sources like streetlights and car headlights to make your photos stand out during the blue hour. However, you must ensure that they are not overexposed, or else they will look like dull blobs of light.

landscape astrophotography of mount olympus
Landscape astrophotography

Shooting at night

If you want to shoot at night, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. The first is the ISO setting of your camera. Put your ISO as low as possible to have a clear image without noise as possible.

Second, set your aperture to its widest point so you can allow more light into your sensor. To avoid underexposure, your shutter speed should be as long as needed to get the picture you want.

Lastly, it would be best to use a tripod for long exposure to avoid a camera shake. Night photography is great for taking shots of the cityscapes.

Astrophotography is also popular, so be sure to pack your tripod if you plan to capture the stars and the Milkyway.

Making use of different weather conditions

Weather plays a vital role in outdoor photography if you want to take pictures that will stun your viewers. Different weather conditions will affect the colors and contrast of your shots.

epic black and white panoramic photo of Mount Olympus
Epic black and white landscape panorama

Outdoor pictures on a cloudy day

Cloudy days provide a diffused ambient light that is soft and ideal for taking landscapes. However, it can be challenging to find the perfect time to take your shots since cloudy days are unpredictable.

On low contrast settings, you need to know when the right moment is so you can avoid under-exposure in some areas while avoiding over-exposure in others. To learn how to do it, try experimenting with different light patterns and compare the results afterward.

Clouds create a softbox effect and are ideal for portraits with soft light.

black and white photo of naxos
island of Naxos, captured during the midday

Outdoor Pictures at High Noon

Midday light is harsh, creating very contrasting images. It makes your shadows appear darker while giving the highlights or areas hit with direct sunlight a brighter appearance.

Black and white photography is an excellent solution for outdoor photos with harsh light. Contrast is high on a sunny day to experiment with black and white.

For more photography tips read also this blog


This article has been an insightful read for anyone looking to take pictures outside. We hope this guide will make your life a little easier and help you get the perfect photo every time! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

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