An online book of Common Sense Photography, by Rhett Stuart

Lighting is the Most Critical Thing for Good Photographs


Show me a photograph with bad lighting and I’ll show you a bad photograph. Lighting is everything. Okay, there might be exceptions because you caught an image that is really neat. But if the lighting was better, it would have been a much better photograph.

Right after dawn and right before dusk are the “golden hours” of photography. Just put the camera away during the middle of the day, the photographs won’t turn out as good!

Make sure your lighting is correct. Remember that your eye will adjust for the shadows but the camera has a much more difficult time with that. Think of the photograph critically before you consider taking the picture. If the lighting is bad, the whole picture will be bad.

I have passed on a lot of photographs, and came back later when the lighting was right and not regretted it. Just go with the lighting, don’t fight it! Sometimes at dawn or dusk the difference of a few minutes can be critical!