Light in Paris: a photography guide between day and night

In summer the light is stronger and in winter the shadows are long ...

How many times have they told us and yet, no, it is not obvious. In fact, there are areas of the planet where this is not the case, where the seasons do not exist and therefore the light does not change during the year. Alone, and only as one moves away from the centre of the earth, the effect of the seasons increases by changing the colours, the textures and the photos that we can take.

But let's go back to Paris...

Keep reading to find out about:

1. The hour: Sunrise vs sunset during the year

2. The sun's path: the unique photo experience

3. The artificial lighting

Keywords: sunrise photography Paris, sunset photography Paris, Sun path Paris, Artificial lights

Luckily for us, here, as in all of Europe and similar latitudes (around 48 for Paris), we do not have days without night or days without sunlight, but between winter and summer the sun changes position, inclination, and light changes its intensity and its temperature. Let's have a look:

1. The hour: sunrise & sunset during the year

As the earth not only moves around the sun, but on its own axis, the hours of the day show patterns throughout the year and that is why sunrise and sunset are two key moments for photographers. This constant is known in photography and that happens here, in Ecuador, in Ushuahia or in Nukut. On any given day, twice a day, just before sunrise and at the end of the day, the sky turns blue. Then, as the sun fights the horizon to pass its last rays, the light turns golden and the shadows stretch. Conversely, the closer the sun is to the zenith its shadows will be more compact and the light stronger.

Also, despite the myth that Paris is grey, the truth is that, with this climate warming, Paris has many sunny days. So, if fates are in our favour, even if you are visiting, you may have gaps of light inspiration, and whatever the verdict, the blue hour is a constant.

So, before you decide to go hunting photos in Paris, define what hour the sun comes out and what time the night falls. A quick guide can be settled as follows:

The equinox: an equinox is that instant when the sun goes through the Equator Line. It can be understood at the moment of balance between day and night so about 12 hours of daylight.

- This happens in Spring, around the 21st of March, and announces the arrival hotter and longer days culminating in June. Sun comes out around 7 AM and night twilight around 19h00 (7PM).

- In Autumn, after the 21st of September, days will become patently shorter as we head to Christmas. Sun comes out around 7h30 and goes down around 19h30 (7:30 PM).

The solstices: a solstice is that moment where the sun arrives at the extreme of its meridional or northern path. So basically, the time of year where the days are longest or shortest.

- On June the 20th the Summer solstice means you are experiencing the longest natural light day possible in Paris. The sun comes out around 5:45 AM and night falls around 22:00 (10PM). About 16 hours of daylight.

- On December the 22nd, as Christmas approaches, you will experience the Winter Solstice and the shortest day in the year. 8H40 and sunset at 16H55 (4:55 PM), about 8 hours of daylight.

2. the sun’s path: the unique photo experience

If you are familiar with apps such as Photo-pills, Suncalc, and others, this is no secret to you. However, if you are discovering how the sun can light up your photos you should know that the sun does not only change the duration of its path between December and June, it also changes the place from where it comes out and where it goes down. Basically, the shadows move in a back- and-forth movement in which they are compacted and stretched over an architecture, that it, remains static. Areas that are in shade during the winter might light up during the summer. There are few facades that never receive light, and for that reason, there are photos that are unique depending on the time of year.

Beyond the theory, here are some sketches to help you clear this out:

3. Artificial lighting

Regardless of the season, who has not dreamed of walking along the Seine at nightfall, seeing Notre Dame Illuminated, and taking some photos with the Eiffel Tower and its night lighting?

The truths is that Paris is a giant metropolis and its public authorities take care that public lighting reaches everywhere. Gone are the jobs of gas lighting lighter that two centuries ago gave Paris the name of “City of Lights”. Today more than ever you to take incredible photos with night lighting.

Once again, if you are new in this, try to begin at least at the blue hour so you can get that amazing effect of clear sky and the wonders of night lights. Bring your tripod with you as using long exposure photos will increase the quality of your results and will allow you to play with it.

Last, a small note, according to important dates to take into account (mainly July 14 and January 1), there are also touches of colour and celebration in particular at the Eiffel Tower (October for example), the Arc of Triumph (New Year’s eve) and other monuments.

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