How to Know the Best Time for Photography from Shadow

How to Know the Best Time for Photography from Shadow

Many know the worst time for photography is at noon. But many also don’t know the best time to do so. And this is one of the most asked questions. Of course, different place has different time and it is hard to determine universally such time. But there is a way. This is how to know the best time for photography from the shadow.

The different place has a different time. That is why we mostly time from the light of the day. That creates a shadow.

I’m gonna use some image to explain it. Not photo, an image that I drew. And I’m a horrible drawer.

How Sunlight Work

This is how the sun works. From the far left sunrise, to up at the middle of the day, and to the far right sunset.
And imagine this is you.  All skinny with a huge head. And smiling for no reason.
And you’re in the middle of it. Imagine its like you’re standing in the middle of an empty field, directly facing the sun all day.
Each time, the sun moves from horizon go up and then end up to another side of the horizon.
As you know the sun will cause sunlight and the reflected you. And in respond, you create your own shadow. (Just imagine that black plump thing is a shadow caused by reflected sunlight).
And this is how your shadow created by sunlight in a day. And I’m sure you know that each time of the day the shadow is different in size. Probably long, sometimes short. (The pink arrows are if the sun is there and reflected on you).

Now you know how the light from sun work and how it creates shadow. And how it work for the shadow.

How the Shadow Work

As I said before, each time the sun change position the shadow caused by it will be different in size. And from that, we can tell the time of day.

This is a simple mathematics. Imagine this:

The sun causes a long shadow
When the sun goes higher, the shadow is shorter
And then shorter, near midday

It works the same after the sun moves after midday.

The shadow moves to the opposite way
The shadow is longer.


And longer.

And this is how the shadow work. From this, you can see the best time for photography.

How to Know the Best Time for Photography from Shadow

The best time for photography is when the sun still near the horizon. It’s because of it soft light and doesn’t create a hard shadow. Unlike at midday.

So from the shadow, you can know the sun position and how high it is.

So the best time is between when the shadow is “longer than you” to when the shadow size is “the same as you”.

The bad time is when the shadow shorter than you.

The blue circles are the probable best time. Usually between sunrise to 9 am or 3 pm to sunset


4 thoughts on “How to Know the Best Time for Photography from Shadow

  1. Exactly! I often go for those long high contrast shadows and light rays on bright, clear mornings and evenings. Those film noir aesthetics never gets old for me.

  2. how do you calculate how tall a building is to figure out length of the shadow it will produce at any given time of the day. I use several sun apps but they don’t tell you height of building.

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