While full sun is great for growing vegetables, it’s bad for photographing your garden. Bright, mid-day sun casts harsh light directly on your subject. This can leave you with photos that are blown-out or overexposed. Additionally, when the sun is directly overhead, dark shadows can also appear in your photographs. So the best time of day to shoot your garden is what photographers refer to as the ‘Golden Hour’. Here’s why….
The Golden Hour is the first hour after sunrise or the last hour before sunset. At this time of the day, the sun is low in the sky and light is warm and more diffuse – making it perfect for taking garden photos. Light is key to a great photo, so if the light is not right – wait. Use the time to enjoy a cup of coffee or to complete a simple garden task that’s on your to-do list. Light changes quickly, so go back and try again for the shot you want.
The images below show the difference between bright afternoon sunlight (left) and softer afternoon sunlight (right).
This shot was taken at 4pm in the afternoon. This part of the garden was getting full sun at the time and you can see the direct sun is bright and casts a harsh light on the coneflowers which washes out the depth of color in the flower’s petals.
This shot was taken a few hours later at 6pm in the evening. The sun was lower in the sky casting softer, more diffused light across this area of the garden which highlights the beautiful tones in the petals and seed head.
Tip: Become familiar with the pattern of the sun across each part of your garden. Think about the shot you want, watch the light, and shoot when the light is right.