The Best Type of Lighting for Different Pictures
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

The Best Type of Lighting for Different Pictures

Published on February 17, 2021

One of the most important aspects of photography to understand is lighting. If a photo is backlit, you won’t be able to see the subjects, just their silhouettes. The same can be said when the lighting is too dark. Too much light can overwhelm the eye and give the image a lack of purpose, whereas the addition of shadows is more pleasing to the eye. Lighting can make or break your picture. 

Depending on what you are planning on photographing, the time of day matters. Yes, we all know the lighting is amazing during golden hour, but it can also be great at other moments throughout the day. In order to be a successful photographer, outside of the studio, it is important to learn what time of day is the best time to photograph different things. Check out the tips below!


Sunrises are a Garden’s Best Friend

Photo courtesy of  Taylor Sanderson

If you’re looking to show off your garden to your friends and family, but can never get a good picture, you’ve come to the right place. The best time to take a picture of your garden or plants, is around an hour after sunrise. You want your camera to face the plants in such a way that the sun is directly behind the plants. This technique is called backlighting. It’s the best way to capture the beauty of your garden because the sun will shine through the leaves and give them a golden glow. People are not the only ones that look our best during golden hour. 


Shade Is Your Friend

Photo courtesy of Frédéric Paulussen

When the lighting outside is so bright, it hurts to even just keep your eyes open, find a shady spot and use that as your backdrop. Not only will it help you get your shot, but if you include people in your shot, they won’t be squinting their eyes the whole time. They also won’t look too over exposed. Another benefit of a shady area is the shadows they create. They can create some very interesting shapes that can look really cool on a picture. Add in a person and the shadows get even more interesting!


Use Exposure to Manipulate Lighting

Photo courtesy of Andreas Lummerzheim

When the lighting is just not cooperating with your vision, you can manipulate the different settings on your camera to help you. When you need to focus on something specific, but the light is making it invisible, use exposure to make the background darker. This tip is most useful when the sun is directly overhead and the subject is harshly lit. Keep clicking the minus button, that all cameras have, until the background is dark enough to where your subject stands out. This way, you can get exactly the amount of light your heart desires, and truly bring your vision to life.


Blue Hour

 Photo courtesy of Nicholas LeTarte

We have all heard of golden hour, during sunrise and sunset, but have you ever heard of Blue Hour? Blue hour comes right after golden hour when it is a little darker and the images have a moodier feel to them. Since the sun’s rays are less pronounced during this time frame, there will be a much subtler difference between shadows and highlights in an image. This time of day is great for taking pictures of buildings and monuments and other things that stay still. 

If you want to photograph people during this time, you would have to find as much light as you can. Try to shoot towards the sun, or near anything that will reflect light onto the people you are photographing. The only problem with blue hour though is that the name is quite deceiving. Blue hour really only lasts a few minutes so you don’t have much time to get the shot you want. Be sure to go into this session with a clear vision and a plan on how to execute it!


Golden Hour

Photo courtesy of Travel Lifestyle

Golden hour is possibly the best time of day to take pictures of people. The sun is in such a great location in the sky that just makes everything look good. It creates the opportunity to make such beautiful silhouetted images, with a beautiful background. These can be the classic beach photos you see, or with trees and a forest behind the subject. Golden hour also provides the opportunity to create lens flares, which can really spice up any image when used correctly. 

The best part of golden hour is the way it makes your subjects glow. The position of the sun gives off such a warm glow which gives off a softer vibe, and smoothes the subject’s skin. Most people who know nothing about photography otherwise, know that they look best just as the sun is going up, or coming down. Plus, it allows your subjects to look in the direction of the sun, without squinting.