Best Time of Day for Landscape Photos

As a general rule, side lighting is more pleasing to the eye than light shining on the scene from above.
When the sun is low to the horizon, the shadows appear longer. This can create interesting patterns and textures in the scene.  Shadows created by side lighting add to the depth effect within the picture through the contrasts they produce between different sides of subjects.

An example of a picture taken during the 'golden hours', in this case about 30 minutes after sunrise. From Grindel's Hut, Flinders Ranges, South Australia. Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 300mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/60 second at f/8.

The quality of the light is also more ‘golden’ at these times because it has to pass through a thicker layer of atmosphere, which may include dust and tiny droplets of water. This attenuates the light, particularly at the shorter end of the visible spectrum (blues and greens).
The result is softer, gentler light with a warmer colour cast, which most people find attractive.
The ‘golden hours’ for most types of landscape photography occur between roughly 30 minutes before and about an hour-and-a-half after sunrise in the morning and between about an hour-and-a-half before sunset and up to an hour after the sun has gone down.

[Extract from Landscape Photography eGuide]

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