What Is the Best Time to Take Pictures Outside?

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Taking pictures outdoors largely depends on the lighting outside. The lighting illuminates the subject and brings out the details. Hence, knowing what is the best time to take pictures outside can make a huge difference. 

What Is the Best Time to Take Pictures Outside? 

The best time to take pictures outside is the golden hour. This time gives your pictures a warm and golden hue. This brings out the subject as the light looks flattering on them. It is true that when the sun goes down, thousands of Instagrams go up.

Person checking his camera settings

Golden Hour

The golden hour is the hour right before sunset or after sunrise. The sun is very low which makes the natural light flattering and super soft. It is a great time if you are looking to shoot portraits because at this time you can create aesthetic backlit portraits. 

The low angle that the light creates softens the shadows, making flattering visual effects. At this time, so keep ISO levels low around 100 and use a narrow aperture such as f/16 to capture better pictures.

For those who like capturing landscapes, the golden hour is a great time to capture the for and depth of landscape scenes. It gives an aesthetic and striking tone to landscapes,  as the light falls on the last time or the first time. At this time capturing the sun setting or rising is a great idea too.


One of the main challenges of capturing pictures during golden hour is that the conditions are changing rapidly. The sun rises or sets very quickly, which gives you very little time to get into position and capture the perfect shot. As time passes, the conditions worsen, and it gets very difficult to get a good shot. 

Also, the golden hour is considered a very inconvenient time for some. It is either too early in the morning and you have to get up and get ready, or far too late in the evening. Moreover, there is a chance that lens flare might be caused by the sun’s low angle. 

Also, the color saturation sometimes is not flattering. The golden hue gets too golden sometimes. At this time, the lighting might overpower the subject. Hence, it is a good idea to wait for a bit, even if you lose some of that light. 

Woman leaning by a tree to take photos outdoors

Other Times to Capture Pictures Outside

If the golden hour is too inconvenient for you or does not suit you, then there are a lot of other times you can capture photos. These include blue hour and the nighttime.

Blue Hour

The blue hour occurs an hour after sunset and an hour before sunrise. At this time the sun has set or has not risen, however, there is still some light to work with. The pictures at this time have a blueish tone. 

During this time, the light is even softer than the golden hour and can thus look well on the subject. It is more suited to landscape photography as the horizon becomes a great background to the rest of the view. 

This time, however, does not last very long so you have to act fast. Also, the light during the time is even less than during the golden hour which is why you should keep a slow shutter speed (around 1/200 seconds) and high ISO levels starting from 400 and slowly increasing to keep noise at a minimum.

Night Time

This happens right after the blue hour when the natural light totally fades away. Night-time photography gives you a lot of opportunities. During the night you can capture great photos by using artificial light sources.

You can play with the light and capture speed during nighttime. Also, in busy streets such as Time Square, street photography can come out great using the right settings such as a high ISO level of around 1000, a slow shutter speed of above 1/400 seconds, and equipment such as tripods and external flash.

Cameras set up in a tripod for a night time shoot

Moreover, you can capture the stars, the milky way, and the landscape.

Related Questions

Where Should the Sun Be When Taking a Picture?

The first thing you must remember is to avoid direct sunlight. Direct sunlight makes it very difficult to capture any picture at all. A good idea is to keep the sun behind you when taking a picture. This makes sure that the sunlight illuminates the subject without getting in the way.

Another good idea is to position the subject in front of the sun. Backlighting creates a rim of light around the subject, emphasizes the depth behind the subject in question, and gives it a great look. You can also capture silhouettes using this method. 

What ISO Should Be Used in Bright Sunlight?

During bright sunlight, ISO should be kept as low as possible. A good idea is to keep it around 100. However, if you are capturing during low light conditions, keep increasing the ISO levels until you get the right shot.


The best time to shoot outdoors is the golden hour. It creates a golden hue and the less intense light looks good on the subjects. However, there is another flattering time to capture photos such as the blue hour and the nighttime.