Photography Lighting Considerations: Pictures with a Colourful Impact

Photography Lighting Considerations: Pictures with a Colourful Impact

Master photographer, Andreas Feininger emphasizes that light and color can achieve one of three goals:

  • It can be natural.
  • It can be accurate.
  • It can be effective.

A photographer can attain these goals by using the manner in which light changes throughout the time of day to the photo's advantage. Weather variations can also be used to create special eye-catching photos. Natural lighting will affect the mood, tone and depth of colour in your pictures.

Photography can be said to be a process of playing with light and color. The time of day you take photos will ultimately affect final results – even in these days of auto exposures, editing and post-photo manipulation to change the final image. Many beginning photographers tend to take pictures in mid-day (10 am to 4 pm) or in open shade. In actuality, mid-day sunlight on a clear day can make for quite ordinary and boring images.

The professionals tend to seek out other times of the day to get more creative and astonishing natural lighting effects. Rain, twilight, fog become the creative photographer’s friend.

Daylight follows a fairly predictable pattern of color and light.

Before Sunrise

In these early hours of low light, your color palate will be reduced to blacks and whites – unless other artificial lighting and flash are added. The light at this time of day has a cool, flat quality and colors are subdued.

Early Morning

As soon as the sun rises, the light changes radically. Colors look warmer – tending to the orange and red tones. This can be an enchanted time for picture taking.

Midday (10 am to 4 pm)

Colors will be brighter but harsher and very contrasty with dark shadows.

Late Afternoon

As the sun begins to sink, objects can take on a warm, rich glow. Shadows will be long and with a blue tone – rather then the dark black of midday. This is the time when dramatic sunsets and colorful cloud formations can be captured.


After sunset, you may still get some sunset colors, but you will probably have little contract between colors and shadows will disappear. Eventually as the evening passes, most color will disappear unless you use extra lighting and longer exposures. Of course, this will be the time when those shots of fireworks will catch a photographer’s attention.


“There is no such thing as bad weather for color pictures,” advise the editors of the Time Life Library of Photography – book on Color, (Time Inc.) “For anything that obscures sunlight, alters colors in useful ways. Fog gives pearly, muted tones much like those recorded before sunrise. Stormy weather adds drama and richness to the deeper hues. Rain can dim some colors and enrich others, while creating shining surfaces with startling reflections.”

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