Photography ideas for shorter days

Peter Fenech

Make the most of light and dark

As we move into Autumn and the days grow shorter, it can be frustrating as a photographer, not to have enough time in the average day to make images. On a work day the sun has often set before most of us leave the office, while the number of shoots we can fit into the daylight hours overall, is lower. However, as with every potential set-back, there are opportunities for great images to be found. Beyond the colourful hues of Autumn, it is possible to make the most of later dawns and earlier dusks, to create unique photos. Here are some top ideas to try as the year draws to a close.

Shoot an evening cityscape

One of the major advantages of an earlier sunset is that we don’t have to stay out in the evening to capture it – no missed dinners are necessary! Explore a city with your camera as the sun lowers towards the horizon, around 4pm, to capture raking light across aged and modern textures and then finally, find a high vantage point to shoot the ‘main event’, looking out across a skyline.

Photography ideas for shorter days













Use Winter sun

The light of the Autumn and Winter seasons has a very special quality to it. It can be harsher in the mid-afternoon and crisp in the mornings, but this eventually fades to a tell-tale softer glow. Just as this starts to happen, there is a window of time where textures are emphasized and raking shadows make eye-catching images. Find an interesting location and make the light itself a subject.

Photography ideas for shorter days











Shoot a sunset portrait

If you wait a few more minutes, the soft glow of the sun is perfect for outdoor portraits. Shoot perpendicular to the direction of the sun to capture this glow as it warms skin tones, or try shooting backlit, to pick out a dreamy haze. Always meter from the subject to ensure correctly exposed shots, using Exposure Compensation if necessary. Alternatively, try using Manual mode to ‘lock’ your exposure and add an off-camera flash for some fill light on your subject’s face.

Shoot frosty mornings

Another advantage of a later dawn is that this time is more accessible, without making plans to get up early for a photo shoot. You could even try capturing some images on your way into work.

Photography ideas for shorter days

Use early darkness

Find uses for low ambient lighting, such as light painting. This requires no special time-planning and allows you to shoot almost anywhere, finding photographs where you might not have considered during the day.

Photography ideas for shorter days










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