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How to Find the Best Light for Photos During the Daytime

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 6 min read
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Finding the best light for photos can be difficult, but it’s definitely worth the effort. The right light can make all the difference in your photography, and can turn an ordinary photo into a masterpiece. Here are some tips to help you find the best light for your photos during the daytime.

The Quality of Light for Photos: What is It?

Stunning shot of the silhouettes of people walking through trees in evening - best quality of light for the day
Light constantly changes throughout the day. Some kinds of light are better for specific genres than others. For instance, blue hour light is perfect for moody landscape photography.
Quality light will help you take the best possible photos of your subject. Your goal should be to find your ideal version of it.
To make this process easier, write down your favorite atmospheres and types of light. If you like softness, you’ll love shooting in the shade on a sunny day. If you enjoy bringing out textures, you’ll find direct light very useful.
Another important thing to consider is your preferred subject. Harsh light doesn’t always work well in portrait photography. And soft light might not enhance textures as much you’d like.


If used correctly, midday light can become your favourite type of quality light.

Use Harsh Light to Bring out Textures

Overhead shot of people rowing wooden boats in a river - best quality of light for the day
When the sun is right above your subject, it will create very rough shadows everywhere. This will emphasize textures and make your photos look gritty.
You can use this to document the harshness of a location. Or to emphasize a model’s strength and make textures stand out more.

Use a Polarising Filter to Avoid Overexposure

A stunning mountainous landscape shot in good quality of light for the day
Even though midday light isn’t always considered to be the best light for the day, it can help you take outstanding photos of landscapes. With the help of different lens filters, you can take your outdoor photography to the next level.

You might find it difficult to expose your photos at midday. Especially if some of your subjects are in the shade and others aren’t.
If you manually adjust your exposure, you’ll end up with photos that are too overexposed or underexposed. This will also make the editing process more challenging than it should be.
To avoid this, use a polarising filter to darken skies and other bright parts of your composition.
In addition to darkening skies, a polarising filter will enhance colors and get rid of distracting glares.

Take Photos in the Shade to Create an Extra Glow

An old woman hiding under an umbrella from the sun - best quality light of day for portraits
Even though noon might not always provide you with the best light for the day, it can help you take unusual and touching photos like this one. In this image, the old woman is hiding under an umbrella. The surrounding light makes her face stand out and emphasizes the textures on her clothes and skin. The umbrella makes for a simple backdrop. All of these elements go hand in hand to create an image that’s perfect for photojournalism.

One of the advantages of shooting at noon is getting a lot of surrounding light. As long as your subject is in a shaded area, you can take amazing, well-lit photos of them.
The surrounding light will cast an even amount of light on your subject. If you’re working with models, the light will create a sparkle in their eyes. This will all result in flattering photos made with the best quality light possible.
Take photos under trees, umbrellas, or sun hats.

Shoot Indoors to Work With Soft Light

bright and airy photo of the interior of a bedroom shot in natural light
You can shoot indoors while you wait for your preferred light for the day. If it happens to be too bright indoors, use curtains. You can also mute highlights in your editing program to make your photos look as soft as this one.

Indoor photography can be dark and unpleasant if there isn’t enough available light. When it’s very bright outside, you can use it to create soft and dreamy photos.
Soft light is perfect for interior, still life, and portrait photography. The bigger your window, the easier it will be to take flattering photos from every angle.
If there are too many shadows, use a reflector. It will add an extra boost of light to your subject’s face or body.

What to Do on Cloudy Days

Aerial shot of a stunning coastline - quality light for the dayEven if they seem like creativity-destroyers, clouds can greatly enhance your photos.
Cloudy days are ideal for bright outdoor photography. The lack of harsh light can help you take well-lit photos of any subject, be it a landscape or a flower.
Make sure you shoot in an open space. Since the light is limited, you won’t have a lot of surrounding light to work with. You should avoid shades and crowded places.
The best places to shoot are fields and beaches.

Golden Hour

The golden hour happens before sunset and after sunrise. If you’re a fan of warm tones and softness, this will become your favorite quality light.

Use Backlight to Create Ethereal Photos

A portrait of a female model outdoors - quality light for the day
Sometimes, even the best quality light for the day needs a little editing boost. Your backlit photos might end up looking flat. To fix this, you can simply add clarity and contrast to your photos in an editing program.

Take photos of your model while they’re standing in front of the sun. If you underexpose, you’ll create a silhouette. If you slightly overexpose, you’ll get a bright photo that’s perfect for ethereal photoshoots.
Backlight also creates sun flares and rainbow lens flares. Both of these are great for dreamy portrait photography.

Use Direct Light to Enhance a Landscape

A luscious landscape shot shot in golden hour light
Golden hour light tends to be the best light for the day, but it’s not always available in abundance. Now that the warmer months are approaching, prioritize outdoor photography so you can make the most of this stunning light.

Direct golden hour light won’t bring out textures as roughly as midday light.
Thanks to the soft glow, it casts an even amount of light on everything it touches. This makes it the perfect tool for breathtaking landscapes like the one above.
You can use direct light to take eye-catching portraits, landscape photos, and closeups.

Blue Hour

A boat shed in a lake among a beautiful mountainous landscape in blue lightRight before the sun rises and after it sets, you can work with a very different kind of light: blue hour light.
The blue hour lasts for around 20-30 minutes and creates a magical blue atmosphere.
Because it’s not as bright as golden hour light, make sure you shoot in open areas.
You can use blue hour light to photograph landscapes and cityscapes. Portrait photographers can use it to create silhouettes or take moody photos of people.


There are many different kinds of light that will make your photos even better. Some will work best for wedding photographers, others for landscape enthusiasts, and so on.
The trick is to experiment with different times of day, angles, and tools.