Serious photographers understand the importance of arriving at a location at the appropriate time of day to capture the intended photograph. This was never more evident than during my recent visit to Santa Fe. While walking through the historic downtown area, I stopped by the Inn & Spa at Loretto several times. Each time, the building took on a new appearance due to the angle of the sunlight at different times of the day.
For me, the least desirable picture was the one I captured just before noon. The contrast is greatest at that time with darker shadows (which isn't necessarily a bad thing):
A couple of hours before sunset, the image becomes less contrasty and the colors begin to warm up:
But, my intention was to capture an image featuring the luminaria (lights) on the adobe walls. The luminaria is a small paper lantern (usually a candle placed inside a paper bag) which is used to decorate some buildings in New Mexico and some neighboring states during the holiday season. The luminaria on this building is electric lights inside hard plastic containers.
The best way to capture this kind of lighting is to arrive at dusk--just before sunrise or after sunset. Since I was not going to be in Santa Fe that night, my only chance was to arrive at the location about 20 minutes before sunrise. For the best results, it's best to shoot before the sun is in the sky. But, it is also important that there is some light in the sky. Otherwise, the sky goes black and more detail is lost in the building.
Unfortunately, most of the best photographic opportunities occur at the most inconvenient hours!