Best Time of Day to Take Pictures

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Last Weekend I was in Miami and take an afternoon off to go take photos in Miami Beach. I was planning to get shots of hotels and specifically elements of South Beach’s famous art deco architecture. The problem was that late afternoon was a bad time to take photos since most of the facades along Ocean drive were being back-lit by the sun at the time. I thought I’d write up a little something about the best time of day to take pictures.

Since the direction of my desired shots was westward-facing, having the sun at about 60 degrees above and pointing my way was producing washed out shots and giving me sun spots. After a few shots I realized my folly. Here are some examples:


If you’re planning to take some photos, make sure you time the sun correctly and avoid having sunshine directly above, or at a direct angle of your camera, especially when taking shots of things you can’t physically move.

Early mornings and late afternoons (right before the sunrise) usually provide the best lighting. For any time of day, though – make sure the sun is at your back as much as possible. In the mornings it will be at your back if you’re facing West. In the evenings it will be at your back if you’re facing East.

Here’s my crudely hand-drawn illustration – in an attempt to live up to this site’s name:

good and bad sun angle for photography

10 Responses to Best Time of Day to Take Pictures

  1. Cory says:
    Haha, nice drawing I like it.
  2. JERSON says:
    is it bad for the camera..when you shots a picture with direct sunlight on the lens? will the lens of the camera damages? . .tnx
  3. Serious damage will be done to the eyes if you look at the sun or reflections thereof through an slr lens, but I’ve never read it will damage the lens.
    • Andre says:
      Wow man. Looking at these shots makes me want to go out there. It’s been a while since I’ve been out there, in nature. You have some aamzing stories. Looking forward to your next set of photographs.
  4. Chris says:
    Re: comments
    There wont be any damage to your camera. It just ruins your shot with cast shadows or glare. The author is explaining step 1 in not taking an amateur pic.
  5. Barry N. Frankel says:
    Use a polarize filter. It gets rid of most of the sun spot. Sometimes I get good pictures that way too. Also a hood can be beneficial as well.
  6. James Bent says:
    I love the drawing. It’s kind of like a bit obvious when you think about it. I keep a daily street-style photo and offbeat fiction blog at:

    Photos and fiction from Singapore.

  7. cindy says:
    nice drawing, 1st visual instruction on photography..
  8. […] methods work exactly the same for videos. You can learn more about this entire process by visiting this photography guide to proper lighting. As long as you use the time of day to your advantage, you can create a video that has the perfect […]
  9. Markus says:
    I’ve done it a number of times – shooting with the sun in the shot. I’m not sure what the damage is, if any.

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