Time of day
Not every beautiful scene always looks really beautiful. Moreover, as a rule, we must make a lot of effort, show patience and observation to show the subject in its best form.
In Studio shooting, when you are in full control of the situation, you can afford to take photos at any time convenient for you or your models. When you go out on the street, you must take into account the external lighting, which changes dramatically in one day.
The next two photos are taken at 12-hour intervals:
Chalk quarries, morning.
Chalk quarries, evening.
What an amazing change! It seems that these are two completely different landscapes, but the pictures are taken from almost the same point.
Time of day
Noon is not the best time to take photos. The sky overhead is a faded, pale blue, and the horizon is almost white, which is especially noticeable if there is a lot of dust in the air. Blinding sunlight produces flat, featureless colors, bright highlights, and black, detailless shadows. The contrast is so great that the faces of the people turn on the images in white masks with black holes of their sockets. About two hours before sunset, the air usually becomes more transparent, the sky becomes a rich blue, the sunlight becomes a warmer shade, the contrast is softened, and all colors look more intense and lively. At this time, as well as an hour or two after sunrise, the landscapes in the photos will look exactly as you want them to look in clear Sunny weather.
If the weather is cloudy during the day and the sky is overcast, you can use this soft diffused light for portraits or macro photography, i.e. where the lower the contrast, the better. From landscape subjects in cloudy weather, it is especially good to shoot a forest thicket, where direct sunlight, breaking through the intertwining branches, would turn the delicate chiaroscuro into an unthinkable mess, which makes the eyes ripple. The General rule for shooting on a cloudy day is to avoid getting into the sky frame. In most cases, it comes out as a white overexposed spot, so be careful.
The last hour before sunset is called the Golden hour. In the morning, it corresponds to about half an hour after sunrise. This is the best time to shoot landscapes, architecture, portraits, and anything else that you can shoot outdoors. The contrast is relatively soft, the colors are rich and rich, the shadows are long, emphasizing the relief and texture, but not so dark as to fall into blackness. The old barn looks like a Palace, being illuminated by these magical Golden rays. Take a picture of a vacant lot with rusty trash cans and people looking at your photos will want to live there. If you shoot something really spectacular – mountain slopes covered with fir trees, a rocky sea shore, a picturesque forest lake or a photogenic model posing against the background of the above-mentioned beauties, then you definitely risk getting a photo that will be worth the time and effort spent on it.
Crane lake. Golden hour.
With sunset or dawn, everything is relatively simple. If the sunset is beautiful, which is not as often as we would like – you take it off, but if not, you wait for what will happen next. Sunset or dawn, if the conditions are favorable – is the peak of color, and their beauty is obvious. It is much more important not to sleep through the dawn and not to eat the sunset, as most people do. If you are waiting for beautiful flowers, make adjustments to your schedule. Pay attention to the clouds. If the sky is absolutely clear, you will probably see a sunset, but with a high probability it will be dull. If the weather is overcast, then most likely you will not see the sunset, but if the clouds in the West part and miss the outgoing sunlight, you will get the opportunity to observe a grandiose picture in its drama. The most colorful, imaginative sunsets require a sky that is not clear, but also not cloudy – you need a combination of light transparent clouds and ragged gaps between them.
In the morning, everything is about the same, only in reverse order, except that the colors at dawn are somewhat colder, since the air in the morning is cleaner and less diffuses red rays. In addition, in the morning you have a better chance of catching fog that collects in the lowlands and creeps over the water.
After sunset, the most interesting things can begin. The clouds, illuminated from below by the sun that has just disappeared behind the horizon, show a surprising richness of shades of red. Purple light, replacing the Golden dawn, lights up on the Western edge of the sky and goes out about half an hour after sunset. This light is especially bright in dry weather, when there is a lot of dust in the air. If you turn 180 degrees at this time and look to the East, you can see a softly lit landscape of crimson hue, almost no different in brightness from the sky, pink at the bottom and turning higher into purple, purple, and finally blue. The pink band visible in the Eastern sky is called the Venus Belt. The bluish edge above the horizon is the shadow of The earth in the atmosphere.
Twilight is the perfect time to shoot man-made landscapes and architecture. The time after sunset (or before dawn), when the brightness of the sky is comparable to the brightness of objects illuminated by artificial light, is called “regime” time. For us, the low level of contrast and the balance between natural and artificial lighting are important here. This allows you to work out the details of the scene perfectly and, more importantly, get amazingly rich colors. To get beautiful images of night landscapes, shoot them not at night, but in the regime time, which can last up to an hour after sunset.
At dusk, the wind is your worst enemy if the scene being shot contains trees and other objects that can be blurred at long exposures. What can I recommend? Wait for a calm, shoot buildings that don’t care about the wind, or return to a windless Studio.
It is difficult to shoot at night. The contrast between the lights of the lanterns and the shadows is too high to fit into a single exposure. In addition, excessively long exposures (more than 30 seconds) generate noticeable noise due to the camera sensor heating. This is a significant drawback of digital equipment. If you are interested in multi-minute or even multi-hour excerpts, go to the film. However, there are also enough problems.
There are benefits from long exposures. Random passers-by caught in the frame will be invisible in the final photo, or turn into barely noticeable ghosts. The lights of passing cars will leave beautiful stripes on the picture, turning city streets into rivers of fire.
Still, the night is best used, oddly enough, for sleep, and if you are not a big fan of astrophotography, it is better to save energy for the morning shooting. Like the dawn – get ready for the early risers.