Capturing a sunrise by the coast is a perfect way to add a wonderful colour hue to an already outstanding location. In the summer months you need to be up and out really early, and in the winter months prepare to freeze to the bone, but the result of your endeavors will certainly be well worth it.
Now, you can still get up at a reasonable-ish hour to capture the sun rising but it is rather chilly so wrap up warm!
We have a few tutorials (linked to below) that cover shooting the sunrise but here are a few quick but essential tips to remember:
Be at your chosen location early as you need time to set up.
Choose a location in advance as you don't want to be chasing around in the dark!
A clear sky will result in a great sunrise but a little cloud cover won't hurt as it'll diffuse the light slightly.
Sunrises can be slightly cooler than sunsets so use your white-balance settings to add warmth to your shot. If you're an OM-D owner you'll be able to apply colour temperature changes and check them in real-time rather than having to fire off test-shots, saving you time.
Try bracketing if exposure is a problem.
Never look directly at the sun as it will damage your eyes.
Here, in no particular order, are nine of the coastal locations you should head to for the next sunrise:
1. Southwold Pier
The pier at Southwold is one of the best in the country and its location is perfect for a beautiful colourful sunrise backdrop.
If you stand on the beach to the left and you can include one of the water breakers which provides some weight to the bottom of the photo while adding foreground interest and helps lead your eyes in to the shot.
Photo by David Clapp
A highly popular location in the Victorian era, and traces of this can be seen in the pier. Shoot from the pier deck with a wide angle lens as the sun rises and paints the scene with orange. The wide angle will ensure the wooden batons converge towards the two huts and provide dramatic perspective. Including the bench in the foreground gives a sense of scale.
3. Eilean Donan
Branded as one of the most iconic images of Scotland, this castle is built on an island at a point where three sea lochs meet. With a background of the highlands and reflections in the loch you can hardly fail to record a beautiful scene. Shoot at sunrise and the scene will become full of atmosphere and magic.
4. Penmon Point
The lighthouse at Penom Point provides a good focal point to a photo.
With the jagged seaweed covered coastal rocks leading your eye to the structure and the balance on the horizon from the Puffin Island you have a photo opportunity to fill the frame with impact. The waters around here can be treacherous, resulting in a variety of moods depending when you turn up.
Photo by David Clapp
5. Black Nab
Black Nab is a protruding rock on the coastline of Saltwick Bay. It can be photographed from many angles to obtain a sunrise or sunset. Take care when walking further to the right of the Nab as you can get cut off when the tide comes in.
Northumbeland's coast has several spectacular castles, from a photographic point of view the one at Bamburgh takes some beating. This castle sits 45 meters above sea level on a plateau of volcanic dolerite. This ensures that from which ever part of the coast you photograph it you will usually get a good view. And as the sun rises from behind it the photographs can be spectacular. Shoot with wide angle to have a foreground full of the rugged coast line. Choice your position some areas have sharp edged rocks, others have huge rounded pebbles eroded by the forceful sea. The black rock can look extremely dramatic against the orange sky.
While you're on the Northumbeland coast, pay a visit to the Dustanburgh Castle found on a headland on the same stretch of coastland. Photo by David Clapp
Many photographers have used the interesting wooden sea defenses here to create interesting shapes against the rising sun. Many photographers use slow shutter speeds to blur the path of the ocean. Some go for faster speeds to ensure the crashing waves are frozen as they burst over the groynes. A point between the two gives a sense of calm motion blur but with some emphasis to the power of the sea.
You can't beat a rugged coast, and the stretch near Howick is perfect for sweeping terrain of basalt rock stretching out into the sea. This volcanic rock forms brilliant textures, especially when glistening from the retreating ocean. Shoot with a wide angle lens from a low viewpoint to exaggerate the shapes. Remember to place the horizon on the upper third for a more visually pleasing composition.
9. Thorpe Bay
Consider a trip across to Thorpe Bay near Southend on the Thames Estuary. Small fishing boats are usually scattered around on the beach giving you plenty of room to shoot isolated subjects against the golden glow of the sunrise. Shoot with a wide angle lens and use the ropes to lead you into the shot. Underexpose a touch for even more dramatic results.
Photo by lobsterboy