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Jun 1 / Nick Teel

Photography Tip: Our Friend the Sun

We left you last month with a tip to refresh your properties’ exterior shots for the change of the season.  Now that the sunny weather has finally hit it is time to start reshooting some photographs.  With that in mind,   Today we are going to answer a question that our photographers receive almost more than any other, “What time of day is best for taking photographs?”  It’s a good question and there continue to be many debates as to what time of the day is actually best; when the sun is angled behind the home, the sun is angled behind the photographers back or the sun is directly above the property?

Many believe that shooting photography with the sun directly over head produces the best lighting, leaving no shadows on the exterior property, whatsoever.  However, this type of setting produces what I would refer to as flat lighting.  Basically, everything is illuminated and what you see is what you get.  If you shoot with the sun behind the home, the complete front is cast in shadows and you are shooting directly into the sun, causing flare and sun spots.    In our photography endeavors we have found that with the sun angled behind the photographer, your results present some of the best lighting for the home.  If you are shooting with the light at your back, shadows are limited but even more importantly, you are dealing with angled light that creates more texture and depth to the photograph.

Now that you know this, how do you know where the sun is going to be shining for your property?  It’s as simple as checking out this Google Maps supported Sun Calculator.  This helpful tool not only gives you the sunrise and sunset times but by typing in your address you can see the position of the sun’s rays, by time of day,  as it pertains to your property .  You can also plan ahead and submit any time or day to this tool’s calculations.  If you have an iPhone, you can buy an app that does the same thing, the Helios Sun Calculator.  It has a lot of features, very little you will need for our purposes here and then a lot of features that I barely understand.    The nice thing about this app, it’s portable on your phone and the app itself won’t break your bank.

Go out and start retaking your exterior spring refreshers.  Don’t forget to check where the sun is located to procure the best light.  Let us know what you think and if you have any opinion on the matter of what time of day is best.


  1. T.J. Miedzianowski / Jun 14 2010

    Great Idea!

    In the Date & Time Box, what is the signifcense of “09:51:43?” Is this the best time to take a photo?

    My home at 591 Honeysuckle LN, Weston, FL 33327 faces South.

    Thank you for your help.
    T.J. Miedzianowski, Realtor
    Coldwell Banker, Weston

  2. Rachel Bjork / Jun 15 2010

    Hi T.J.!
    Thanks for your comment. To answer your question, there is no significance to that specific time. The sun calculator just allows you to enter different times/dates to get an approximation of the sun position (it appears to initially display the time you pull up the site– then you just enter a different time for specific sun location).

    We’ve included an example image in this link, it estimates the most direct sun position relative to 591 Honeysuckle Ln, Weston, FL 33327 to be at 11:45 am (so they’re saying this would be the ideal time to take a photograph of the front of the house). This assumes the date is Wednesday, June 17th. So if a photographer or an agent knew they were going to shoot at a given time they can use this site to estimate where the sun will be relative to the home.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Frank Steltenkamp / Aug 1 2010

    So many variables factor into sun position. Directly overhead may be an advantage if there are trees that would otherwise cast shadows on the facade. For most facades, sun slightly or mostly behind you is an advantage. But then there are the interiors to consider. The sun may be perfect for facade lighting, but then you have direct sunlight into what’s usually the livingroom, and the agent wants to open all blinds to “let the sun shine in.” Of course, we know this direct sunlight will be overwhelming, and most likely cause deadly glare on a wood floor, resulting in total loss of detail on the floor and any other shiny surface in its path.

    I vote for overcast days in almost all cases except when there are no trees that will cause shadows on the facade, or when agent is willing to close curtains or blinds, or best yet, order a premium shot. Direct sunlight is overrated. Why were umbrella reflectors invented for studio work? Diffusion. That’s what clouds do.

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