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When you’re planning to photograph a location, how do you plan your day? It’s important to know when the best times are to photograph any given subject. If you don’t know what the weather and lighting situations are going to be like, there’s a good chance that you will hit exactly the wrong time.

Follow these guidelines to get better photographs simply by choosing what to shoot at what time.


Let’s start right at the beginning, with the golden hour. This is the time early in the morning when the sun is just beginning to rise, flooding the landscape with a soft, golden light. The term can also be applied to a similar form of lighting which arises at sunset, just as the sun is going down. Although the window of time is a short one, the light is spectacular, and can really transform any photograph.

Just about any landscape will suit the golden hour, but it is better used in places where the soft colors will bring something out. For example, a snowy peak, where the white expanses will be transformed into shades of peach. The Grand Canyon is a popular spot for golden hour shoots, as the layers of rock turn different shades while the sun moves. In hilly or mountainous landscapes, the slopes will create areas of shadow to contrast with the soft light. These are all things to consider when setting up a golden hour shoot.

If you’re not confident in your abilities, it’s recommended that you try for the sunrise rather than the sunset. After the golden hour is over, there is still daylight when you shoot in the morning. If you miss the shot during the sunset, you will have to go home empty-handed.

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