September 5, 2011

Photo Tip: The Magic Hours

Credit: Meredith Mullins
Paris is, indeed, the City of Light. We get more than our fair share of moments when the light just takes our breath away. It’s good to know, though, that the best hours for photographing are in the early morning (for an hour or two after sunrise) and in the late afternoon (for an hour or two before sunset). These book-ends of the day are called the magic hours... and for good reason. The light is soft and diffused. The light source (the sun) is low in the sky and provides directional side-lighting, sculpting everything it illuminates with beautiful dimensionality. Shadows are long and interesting. And the contrast between the highlights and shadows is less intense, allowing for easier exposure of a fuller tonal range in the photo.

In Paris, there is also another time that is easy to love as a photographer. It’s that time, about 30 minutes after the sun has set, when the sky is a rich, deep blue, and the street lamps and monument lights have just come on. Absolutely magic!