What is the Best Time to Take Pictures Outside?

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When you shoot outdoors, the lighting is outside of your control. Even though you plan the exact time of your photo shoot thinking that it could help with improving your images, there is no guarantee that the result will be of the best quality. 

Luckily, there are certain hours that you can follow to ensure high-quality photos. By familiarizing yourself with the best time to shoot photos outdoors, you can increase your chances of capturing stunning pictures. 

What is the Best Time to Take Pictures Outside?

If you plan to take landscape and architecture photos, the best time is during sunset and sunrise. 

Meanwhile, if you are into portrait photography, taking pictures just after sunrise and before sunset can do wonders for your images. 

Photographer waiting for golden hour

Best Time to Shoot Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is effective when they are taken during magic hours. It is the last hour before the sun sets, and it is the first hour after the sun has risen. 

  • The Golden Hour 

You can take amazing landscape images during the golden hour because the sky has a natural red and orange glow. 

The lighting during the golden hour is soft and warm because the sun is at a low position. 

Since the light is at a low angle, the shadows are not as intense, creating an aesthetically pleasing visual effect. Also, since highlights are apparent during the golden hour, it accentuates the depth of the scenes. 

  • The Blue Hour

The blue hour is one of the best shooting times for landscape photographers. It is a period of twilight wherein the sky has blue tones because the sun is at a certain depth below the horizon. 

The blue hour creates amazing effects, especially when you are in an urban setting. The buildings, street lamps, car lights, and other establishments all work together to produce an excellent blue-toned effect on your images. 

Best Time to Shoot Portrait Photography

You can shoot portraits outdoors just a few hours after sunrise. You can also take pictures just before the sun sets. 

Hand holding a camera against sunlight

However, portrait photographers are not advised to shoot pictures during the golden hour because light quickly changes during that time.

If a portrait photographer takes pictures during the golden hour, they’ll have to change the settings all the time just to catch up with the light. 

Changing your settings constantly is time-consuming, and it shifts your focus from the scenery to the technical details of your camera lens

Also, the colors that are produced during the golden hour may be too intense for portrait photography. The bright and saturated colors are too overpowering when capturing images of people, and they could blur their faces. 

Best Time to Shoot During Spring and Summer Seasons

The best time to capture images during the summer and spring months is late afternoon and early mornings. Taking pictures midday, especially during the summer, will create dark images because the sky produces a harsh and very bright light. 

The light is more gentle in the early morning and late afternoons. 

Best Time to Shoot During the Autumn Season

For the autumn season, you can start taking pictures the minute the sun rises. The gentle light during sunrise gives amazing fall colors. Also, since the nights are cold, it creates a beautiful mist in the morning, adding natural effects to your images. 

You can also take pictures at sunset. The natural golden tones of a sunset combined with the vibrant colors of the autumn leaves can easily create beautiful imagery. 

Best Times to Shoot During the Winter Season

The best time to take pictures during the winter season is at nighttime and during the magic hours. The two periods create beautiful images despite the chilly weather. 

  • The Magic Hour

When it comes to outdoor photography in the winter, the magic hour is highly favorable. The magic hour is the time of day when the sun is near the horizon and is just about to set. 

The low angle of the sun in the sky at this period creates a magical effect ideal for snow-capped mountains and trees. 

During winter, the sun stays low so it illuminates beautiful, soft and flattering light throughout the day. 

Woman taking outdoor photos at night
  • Nighttime

The night sky during the winter season is not as dark, and the constellations are visible, so you have the chance to capture great images that you can’t normally take at any other time of the year. 

Related Questions

At What Time Should You Avoid Taking Pictures Outdoors?

The worst time to snap photos outdoors is midday, especially when it comes to portraits and landscape. 

During midday, the sun is right above your head and will cast shadows on your images and show poor color contrast. 

How Can You Calculate the Ideal Time to Shoot Outdoors?

You can calculate the ideal time to take pictures outside by using websites or apps that show sunrise and sunset times. 

Some of the best websites to check out are The Photographer’s Ephemeris and the Photopills. 


Outdoor photography may be tricky since everything is beyond your control, especially the light. However, you can seize it as a chance to experiment with lights and colors and explore your options. 

To maximize nature’s effects, it is important to plan your outdoor photoshoots ahead of time. 

Kaitlin Cooper is an active professional wedding and portrait photographer in San Diego, California at Kaitlin Cooper Photography. She is also a contributor to many large publications, including Bridal GuideBustlePixpaWith Joy, and Hello Giggles.