Magic hours

Cow standing in a field © RSPCA

The two hours after sunrise and the last two before sunset are what photographers call the "magic hours".

  • This is when the light is best for photography; the sun is low in the sky, creating images that look soft and radiant and reducing the contrast between bright and dark areas. This allows you to capture details in the highlights and shadows. The light is a warmer colour too, giving a pleasant glow to even the dullest backgrounds.
     
  • Weather conditions at dawn and dusk can add interest to your photos. Cold, clear nights can lead to wisps of mist on ponds and lakes as the first rays of sun warm the water, while sunsets can create a dramatic background for landscapes and silhouettes.
     
  • As the day is ending, nocturnal animals will be waking up. During the summer months you have a better chance of spotting them as they forage before sunset. Birds are more active in the morning, having spent the night tucked up waiting for sunrise to signal that it’s time to look for food.
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