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Tips & Tricks

How to Choose The Best Time of Day For The Best Light

By Justin Heyes on May 16th 2018

Finding the right light is a matter of perspective. Often times photographers will search for that soft glow but will choose to go out an shoot at the least opportune times, like midday. From a portrait photographer’s standpoint, the harsh light and drastic shadows are usually not the best for the most flattering images. London based professional photographer and filmmaker, Sean Tucker, shares his secret to choosing the time of day for the best light.

[REWIND: Using Barn Doors To Control Harsh Light For Portraits | How I Shot It]

Capturing that perfect images in natural light is not a matter of post-process wizardry, it largely comes down to the time of the day where the Sun is most beneficial to your artistic vision.

Tucker uses an app called PhotoPills to help him determine where the Sun will be at any given time; coming back to his favorite spot in Munich during magic hour. Magic hour occurs just after sunrise, or the couple hours before sunset and is dependant on where you are located. Mobile applications like PhotoPills, Magic Hour, Golden Hour, Sun Scout, and The Photographer’s Ephemeris are powerful, showing you where the light from the Sun will fall based on your latitude.

When venturing out you may not have the luxury of coming back to a spot later in the day. If you have a particular location you want to photograph, planning on shooting at magic hour will give your subjects that soft warm glow that is highly sought after.

Photographed by Sean Tucker – Fuji X-T20, 35mm f/1.4

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Louis Joseph

    Great post, man!!!  I agree thoroughly!  If you want that amazing shot at sunrise, you aren’t going to get it at 11:00 a.m.  You have to put in the effort to get those epic results, like waking up 2 hours before the sunrise to get up and drive to where you want to be, set up your stuff, and be there before the sky even turns eggplant purple.  And, you are right that when you capture the shot well, the post production just makes your epic shot that much better.  One of my biggest challenges as a portrait photographer is telling clients that they either need to get up very early or come out at sunset.  But they don’t want to get up early or “can’t” hang around for sunset.  Then, they wonder why their photos don’t have that magical sunrise or sunset quality.  Hmmm…    Wonderful post!!!  

    Louis Joseph

    Asbury Park and Jersey Shore couple children and family photographer

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