Light, Time of Day, Weather and Seasons

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There are many physical characteristics that are essential to the way in which a camera operates but most can be set aside except for a couple of them that have direct impact on image quality and usability. It is important to note that explanations are aimed at a beginner to intermediate level of knowledge pertaining to photography.

Under- and Over- exposure

Cameras have a limited dynamic range or ability to properly represent the full variation of light levels from darkness to brightness. What may seem as too dark or too bright for our eyes is frequently much beyond the possibilities of our cameras. The ability to compensate light levels is intrinsic to our eyes, while it can only be possible to do so on a much limited scale on our cameras. It is essential to predict when overly bright or dark areas may appear in our photos and determine how this may affect captures.

Practicing snapshots and quickly evaluating photos is the most likely way to improve your photography skills. There is never the case of taking too much photos if you make slight changes on each capture. As it will be explained, there are many exploration possibilities and suggestions about specific scenarios will help in determining expectations and potential results.


Light is essential to any picture. Too little light does not produce an useful feature while too much ends up with one that has no details. In actuality, reaching a very good balance is challenging and what seems to our eyes as optimal may not be the same to a camera. In many ways we have to adapt to the way our cameras cope with light to achieve good enough photos. Professional cameras can have certain accessories such as lens hoods that limit the amount of light that can enter the optical system from anything else but the area where your subject is. Users of semi-professional and smartphone cameras have to learn how to avoid overly bright scenes, and results can be quite acceptable.

Intense light

Perhaps the worst experience of a photographer is trying to capture sunny moments. Even sunrise and sunsets can be difficult to manage despite the number of photos you can find on many websites. Unfortunately, this type of scenes is precisely what you want to avoid when you are starting to get used to your camera. In actuality, except on scenes where the sun is not bright enough, to have an useful picture requires professional cameras and their special lenses. Otherwise you are left with a way too bright picture that does not show the sun or a way too dark one that leaves the rest of the scene almost invisible. Colours also will be washed out or dimmed.

The key in this circumstance is to avoid having the sun directly facing the camera, prefer to have it at a certain angle and direction. The most appreciated approach is to have the light coming from the upper left corner, as this is the way in which right-handed persons mostly expect the light to be positioned. It creates pictures with good highlights and shadows even if they may not seem as spectacular.

To much light intensity, little saturation and few details in a picture are usually considered as being "overexposed".

Dim light

It is similarly difficult to experience too little light. Late evening photos certainly have charm. However, capturing a sky light only by the moon, in a scene that is marked by darkness is a very major challenge. As the exposure time rises with reductions in useful light, it may be required to keep the camera precisely steady for around a second or even more. This is much more difficult than it sounds. Any shake, no matter how small, ends up with an unusable image. This type of scenarios require a good tripod to ensure high quality pictures but even so, certain cameras, particularly economy models from smartphones and semi-professional cameras, may not create images with enough details.

The key is to avoid taking pictures in dim light situations and only consider them experiments. Once in a while, you may end up with very good pictures while most will just be way too generic or even useless. While modern smartphones may produce better pictures with little effort you should keep in mind that certain details are lost and pictures do not look as good as professional examples posted on various websites.

However, it is somewhat difficult to capture a good, balanced atmosphere. Public lighting can be too bright at times and the light glow may be uneven, creating areas that are almost invisible.

To little light intensity and overly dark pictures are usually considered as being "underexposed".


Relatively frequently you may encounter scenes that have too much light in certain areas while being relatively balanced in others. In these circumstances, the capture may be ruined by the sudden light glow coming from an intense sun through foliage or the bright streetlight. While you may not reach the desired framing you would hope for, it is better to compromise and find a different angle that obscures the culprit light source.

Smartphones have a slight advantage over traditional cameras in this scenario. If you can choose where the focus on your scene is and how bright or dark it is, you may reach a quite good picture while still being able to frame it well. Keep in mind that intense highlights cannot be reasonably coped with so they should be out of the picture frame. Less intense areas can be very well compensated for with the above technique.

On a smartphone camera application you may take different shots of the same scene, lighter and darker, with a different focus. While this can also be achieved on professional cameras, it is much easier to do on a smartphone and helps you practice useful photography techniques.


Any time of day has its own specificity in photography. This covers not only techniques that compensate various lighting distribution situations, it extends to subjects that are best framed in such situations. As a rule of thumb, you always try to compensate uneven light.

Dusk and Dawn

At dusk and dawn there may be certain natural or man-made features that can be accentuated. Nature can revel in the light that is rarely common to most of us, creating interesting scenes to capture. Trees' foliage, large fields or grassy areas look attractive if there are also some shadows cast here and there. Architecture can be very well highlighted from different angles and shadows have an important role. The eerie orange tint can also be helpful.

Early Morning and Evenings

Morning and evening scenes are typically the best time to experience with photography, as the light is neither too strong nor too weak and there are abundant opportunities for good photos due to the way in which light is positioned.

Midday or Noon

Midday or noon photos are much more difficult than expected for some photographers. Challenges are present due to the overly intense light that also has a large portion of ultraviolet radiation. This results in unpleasant violet light cast in brightly light areas. You may also encounter situations where there is either too much light that affects details or the potential scenes look simply uninteresting. Having light cast directly from above, leading to few if any shadows, is the main issue. Unless you have a professional camera with polarizing and Ultraviolet or UV blocking lenses, it is better to avoid taking pictures at this time of day, except as experiments.

Afternoon and Late Morning

Afternoon and late mornings offers many opportunities particularly to capture a bustling city life although nature can still take center stage. The changing direction of sun rays offer enough variation for photography while light is plentiful.

Night photos

Night photos are many times extremely challenging as low light situations create difficult scenes for most cameras. Although results may look somewhat reasonable, there is always a part of the picture that is too dimly light or were details are lost. This is the reason why most nighttime pictures are focused only on specific areas where light and detail compromises are as small as possible.

Good captures of night scenes require tripods for traditional cameras and at least a stand for smartphones. While you may reach usable pictures with a steady hand the best results are achieved in the perfect steadiness ensured by a tripod or stand.


In a permanently changing environment, no two days are perfectly the same. While sunny days are the easiest for exploration, cloudy days offer enriched perspectives that must be explored by any seasoned or aspiring photographer. Rainy and snowy days should not be discounted either, even though snowy days may be more enticing than the grey perspective offered by water droplets. It all comes down to emotions and weather patterns can easily reflect that.


Sunny days are the easiest time to capture photos. Light is plentiful and there are many opportunities for subjects and good framing. Just about any camera can create the best photos in these circumstances.

While bright light is enjoyable, it may frequently result in "overexposure". Getting experienced at judging when these situations appear will save time and effort.


Sparse clouds create wonderful opportunities for photos as the area beneath them have a different light intensity than ones directly under the sun rays. Both land and sky photos can be easily taken. Having the sun occluded by the clouds creates wonderful opportunities to capture and balances well a scene. Increasing or decreasing the lightness and darkness in a particular scene can enhance or reduce a dramatic effect that you want to achieve. It is very easy to create colourful pictures.

Dense cloudy skies offer much less opportunities for photographers. Reduced light, the absence of shadows and a tendency of slightly emphasizing the green violets and blues instead of having a balanced light distribution, creates relatively unappealing scenes. A way to describe such a scene would be soft and relatively distant, due to the prominence of gray tones. However, if such scenes are to our liking, since they are devoid of most details, it is well to consider them as such.

Hazy or Foggy

Haze and fog create few opportunities for photography due to the fact that they are unpredictable and it is difficult to easily focus on an area of interest. Although the eerie look may seem appealing, it is not an easy task to reach acceptable captures. Such scenes are better reserved for experienced photographers or when efforts can be spared with potentially minimal results.


Rain creates similar scenes with dense cloudy situations, with the exception that light may be even dimmer than on the previous case. Good captures may require steady photos where the rain shower has a visible influence: droplets, puddles, drab environments. It is advisable to take care that the camera itself will be reasonably well protected from rain. It is highly recommended to avoid taking pictures in stormy weather unless the camera is secured and sheltered.


Both snowy weather and the snow presence itself create very good photo opportunities. Snow storms can create an intense perspective change for an outdoors scene, whether snowflakes are large or small. Snow deposited on various object or people can also be interesting. Generally, partially clouded days are best for snow photos. Intense sunlight can also create good opportunities. Keep in mind that, however, intense light on fresh snow creates a strong blueish cast that is caused by Ultraviolet or UV light reflection. This may be required to be compensated, where available, on professional cameras, through UV and polarizing lenses. In most circumstances, you can either emphasize this colourful effect for artistic purposes or simply chose an area where sunlight is less intense.

Melting snow may also offer very good chances of good photographs, particularly in the case of icicles, although any scene where snow and recognizable man-made or natural creations are present can look attractive.


In any season there are specific environments that can be admired and captured. While spring presents nature at its best, rich and colourful, autumn, summer and even winter may offer their own meaningful moments. As a rule of thumb, spring and summer offer the most rewarding photo captures and can offer a solid motivation.


Spring offers, undoubtedly, the best opportunities for photography. Lush green fields, blooming trees, flowers springing everywhere bring colourful scenes. Many opportunities can be spotted even on small areas that are not usually interesting. You can experience with so many angles and closeups that hundreds of photos can be taken in just a couple of hours. The only aspect to note is that to highlight nature in macro scenes you require good optical magnification, steady positioning and good light. Smartphones are generally not as suited for extreme closeups while they can handle well any other scene and be a wonderful companion on walks.


Summer is probably the most likely time to experience new places and travel. Forested areas and the mountains offer perhaps the best opportunities for photographers but any natural area is suitable, including the seaside. While more muted in colour, summer offers the chance of having balanced scenes and allows other man-made or natural features to be easily highlighted.

Autumn or Fall

Autumn is very nice and offers a similar show of colour but on a different tint. Colours slowly transition from green to yellow towards brownish-red. As any tree has a different moment when reaches a particular state, wonderful, colourful landscapes can be experienced. With enough patience and time, you can experience and capture a changing landscape on many photos, including the ones that highlight the land being covered in colourful leaves.


Despite being a season where nature's presence is generally muted and colours are mostly absent, winter offers her own opportunities. Capturing the uncovered tree branches, deserted areas, offers a specific meaning. When snow falls, deposits and melts, there are many times more chances at having good pictures. Freezing days and stormy weather can also show interesting details.