Lighting can be the deal-breaker. The right lighting will make a good photo great, and a great photo spectacular. Of course, determining and finding the right light is the challenge. As an outdoor photographer, knowledge of the area and the sun's position in the sky are key. Repeated trips to the same location are often necessary, the first being essentially a scouting trip to see what is there and to figure out what time will make the most dramatic lighting. Then a return trip to be in location and set-up to capture the moment.
The 2 best times to photograph are morning and evening. As the sun lights the sky before it breaks the horizon, everything is bathed in a soft subtle glow allowing for long exposures and other-worldly colours. Reflections off the underside of clouds light-up in pinks and reds and add drama to any photo. Evening has esentially the same attributes as morning. Both these times are fleeting and will be missed without proper preperation.
I photograph at all times of day, but what I photograph changes depending on the time and intensity of the sun. I look for the grand vista at dusk and dawn, then for details and sublties, macros, wildlife, and more unusual compositions during mid-day light.