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Quick Basic Sunrise Photography Advice

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Category: Landscape and Travel

Basic Sunrise Photography Tips - Get out of bed before the rest of the world wakes up to capture some great images.

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Right now, you can get up at a reasonable hour and still have time for a short drive to shoot a sunrise. A few months from now and you'll have to get up at around 3.30am if you want to be out in time to capture the sun as it rises!

That's enough to make most of us hide under the duvet! It might sound painful but sunrise shooting is worth the effort in the end (honest!) and you get a very different look from sunset.

Sunrise, Devon
Photo by David Clapp - www.davidclapp.co.uk

As you'll be up before light breaks, a torch, particularly a head torch will give you the light you need to set-up your equipment. You'll also need a good sturdy tripod and pack a graduate neutral density filter in case you find the sky's a lot lighter than the ground.

If you wanting to shoot a wide, majestic landscape you'll need a wide-angle lens but if you want the rising sun to be the star of the show you'll need a good telephoto zoom. If you do pack the zoom do not look at the sun through the lens as there is the risk of eye damage. Instead, make good use of your camera's LiveView feature or just compose with the sun shielded behind something solid. Oh, and don't forget to have a fully charged battery.

You need to to be at your chosen location, facing east, with your equipment set up at least twenty minutes before the sun rises so set that alarm clock to go off early. It obviously helps if you decide your location in advance too - there is nothing worse chasing around the countryside looking for a photogenic spot when the light is stunning.

You might also want to stick your head out of the window the night before to check on the weather - at the very least, watch the weather forecast. A clear sky will give a good sunrise and potentially lovely colours but a little bit of cloud can be better as it will diffuse the light even more.

The soft morning light can have shadows cool feel so try using the cloudy or shade white-balance setting to warm the shot up. You'll also need longer exposures so watch that the shutter speeds don't drop too low if you are hand-holding.

As the sky's bright and the ground's dark your camera may struggle to expose correctly but bracketing can solve this and then you can merge the pictures in Photoshop to give good highlights and shadows. If the sun's your main focus try spot metering just to the side of the sun before bracketing. Using graduate filters will also help keep contrast down too.

If you're going for the wide vista of rolling hills, swirling mist and rising sun you'll need a small aperture to get more depth-of field so more of the scene is in focus. Also, pay attention to the colours and your surroundings. If the sky's a brilliant blanket of colour let it take up most of your shot's composition. One thing, though, don't shoot with the horizon running through the middle of the shot. Compositionally, use the rule-of-thirds for better composed images.

The landscape looks great at sunrise but you also get great effects in towns and cities too - and of course it will be much quieter so it might be you chance to get some scenes with no cars or pedestrians in shot. Urban sunrises are just as relevant as scenic sunrises.

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NDODS e2 Member 32335 forum postsNDODS vcard United Kingdom96 Constructive Critique Points
8 Jan 2014 - 6:43 AM

Informative and interesting information...

Regards Nathan Grin

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