outdoor photographyOne of the most important things that a photographer needs to get a good, solid grasp on is lighting. A photographer should always be mindful of his surrounding and the lighting that it provides towards a particular subject. For example, a photographer must be concerned with the warmth, depth, form, contrast, color and texture of the subject that he wants to capture.

However, all of these things will be unavailable if there is no proper lighting provided. One has to be able to master shooting at the optimum time in order to differentiate between an amateur’s picture and a professional’s.

There are a lot of times that one will go through when they will be shooting something that would be best shot at a different time of day. A fishing dock would probably look great during the middle of the day, when the sun is up, casting great warmth over the whole place but it would equally be an impressive shot if you were to wait until dusk when the sun would be setting over the horizon.

It would make for a more poignant setting as well as more established shadows and colors since the setting of the sun will cast an orange hue over the rest of the sky in your shot as opposed to white, overexposed sky in the middle of a cloudless mid-afternoon. It would also be equally advantageous for you if you shot that picture in the early morning.

You should remember that when the sun is low over the horizon, the light is leaning more towards gold and orange which will enable you to get a shot that is warm and reminiscent of a log fire. The professional photographers call these times, "magic hours". These are the times that most magazines and movie shots are made or shot. It is within this very brief window of opportunity that the best shots are captured because of the orange hues that are emanated from the sun, the horizon and the sky.

Being able to plan your shots during these magical hours will save you time and will definitely provide you the best lighting that could ever be provided outdoors. If you save your photography for one hour after sunrise and two hours before sunset, you will be able to add spectacular warmth to your shots.

Here is just a rough layout of a day’s plan. This is assuming a sunrise at 6am and sunset at 7pm, and that your spouse/kids/friends suddenly give you the reverence and servility you so obviously deserve, a good day might be:

5am: Pre-dawn: A pink, ethereal light and dreamy mist for lakes, rivers and landscapes.

6-7am: Dawn: Crisp, golden light for east-facing subjects.

10-2pm: Midday: The sun might be too harsh for landscapes and people, but perfect for monuments, buildings and streets with tall buildings.

2pm-4pm: Afternoon: Capture blue skies with a polarizer.

4pm-6:45pm: Late Afternoon: Awesome warm, golden light on subjects facing west. This is the best time for landscapes as well as people, particularly one hour before sunset.

6:45 – 7:30pm: Sunset: Great skies 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after sunset.