The ability to accurately estimate light levels in shaded environments is important for understanding plant adaptations to shade. This study evaluates the effectiveness of three rapid methods of estimating the long-term integrated percentage of above-canopy photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) in a deeply shaded conifer-dominated forest understory. These methods included (i) hemispherical canopy photography, (ii) hemispherical sensors (LAI-2000), and (iii) instantaneous %PPFD. Transmitted PPFD was continuously measured starting in June and ending in November using photodiodes at 60 measurement points ranging from 1 to 50% PPFD. Measurements from all methods were positively and linearly related to the mean daily %PPFD measured for two different periods of the year (foliage on and foliage off). However, the strength of the relationship and closeness to a 1:1 fit was weaker for the hemispherical photograph technique. During the foliage-on period, the hemispherical sensor (LAI-2000) explained 90% of the variation in mean daily %PPFD, while the instantaneous %PPFD and hemispherical photography explained 88 and 67%, respectively. Moreover, when examining low-light conditions only (<6 %PPFD), hemispherical photographs failed to detect differences in %PPFD, while the other two techniques were nearly as effective in low light as across the entire light gradient.