Photography is all about light, light absorbed and light reflected. There are times of day that are favored or avoided for outdoor photography without artificial lighting.
Middle of the day with sun high in the sky is generally considered undesirable time for photography. The light is too bright, harsh and contrasty with strong highlights and dark shadows.
At the other extreme is the night photography, time between dusk and dawn. Use of tripod to allow for long exposure is usually necessary. It allows for great depth of colors and special moods.
The golden hour or the magic hour is probably the most favored time of day of many photographers. The duration of this period is not literally an hour but varies according to time of the year and latitude. It's the time around sunrise and sunset with sun near the horizon resulting in a more indirect lighting. Reddish, pinkish, orange and warm tones predominate.
Then there is also the blue hour, another preferred time for photography. It's the twilight period around early dawn (just before sunrise) or late dusk (just after sunset) with sun below the horizon (4 to 6 degrees below the horizon). The light is even more diffused than during the golden hour. Longer wavelength red light passes through the atmosphere into space and shorter wavelength blue light is diffused and scattered giving a rise to indirect lighting with a blue hue. As with the golden hour, duration is only figurative, not literally an hour. It's an appealing time for urban and nature landscape photography.
Few of my favorite examples of blue hour photos follow:
From Washington to Jefferson Washington DC skyline at blue hour
New York City skyline across the river at blue hour
Chicago landmarks during holiday season at blue hour
Buckingham Fountain in front of Chicago skyline at blue hour
Passing ship near a lighthouse on Lake Michigan at blue hour
Blue hour ending and golden hour starting on the coast of Maine
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