Every Great Photo Needs This

So you just came back from an amazing trip and you can’t wait to upload your photos and see what you’ve captured.

When you finally get to a computer and see your photos on a big screen, you can’t help but feel slightly disappointed.

Something’s not right.

The view is amazing.  Your composition is good.  But there’s definitely something missing.

Well, there’s one thing that you absolutely need for a great photo and chances are that’s the necessity that’s missing. What is it? LIGHTING!

I’m not talking about having enough light in your photo. I’m talking about understanding the concept of light behavior and how it affects your image. When you break down how a camera works, it all revolves around light and how the camera absorbs it to create a photograph.  No light, then no photo.  That’s how you and your camera create an image. 

However, creating an image that stands out is a different story...

For most of us, we seldom run into great lighting by accident.  When I plan a photo adventure, I do my best to time it well with the sun’s schedule.  If you’re like me and you love shooting outdoors, you need to understand the positioning of the sun. My favorite times of the day to go out and shoot are sunrise golden hour, sunset golden hour, and the hour before the sun comes up and the hour after the sun goes down: blue hour.

These times of the day always put the ‘pop’ in my photos.

During sunrise and sunset, the sun creates an amazing golden light; while blue hour produces beautiful blue, purple, and pink tones.  The following images are great examples of each time of day. 

Sunset golden hour by William Thompson |  @goodthompson

Sunset golden hour by William Thompson | @goodthompson

Sunrise golden hour by Adriel Callao |  @norcal_exp

Sunrise golden hour by Adriel Callao | @norcal_exp

Sunset blue hour by  Elizabeth Delgado  |  @elzbth

Sunset blue hour by Elizabeth Delgado@elzbth

Another favorite outdoor condition of mine is overcast.  When fog is present, it adds the cherry on top.

When it’s overcast, the clouds block the sun and act like an enormous softbox. This type of lighting creates mysterious and moody images like the images below.

Overcast on Highway 395 by  Elizabeth Delgado  |  @elzbth

Overcast on Highway 395 by Elizabeth Delgado | @elzbth

Overcast on Lake Tahoe by  Glenn Lee Robinson  |  @glennleerobinson

Overcast on Lake Tahoe by Glenn Lee Robinson | @glennleerobinson

One factor you also might want to consider is where the sun is positioned in your photo.  Positioning the sun for direct lighting, back lighting, and side lighting are also major concepts you need to think about, which I will cover in another article.

Next time you plan your next photo adventure, try shooting during one of these conditions.

You might find the pop you were looking for.