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Greetings all, as always thanks for taking the time to read.
I love a beautiful sky. Our summer may be awful in the UK so far, but the weathers creating plenty of great skies when the sun finally does come out after a day of rain. Now, this has brought about a frustration for me - in my local area where I live, I really struggle for a nice scenic view to accompany that sky. The few views I have never seem to be in line with the lights origin.
So my questions: I want to find places to shoot when I predict a nice sunrise or sunset. I was thinking of maybe getting an ordnance survey application for my phone, and try and look for high ground locally to guide my exploration of local areas, rather than searching randomly. Real noobie question also, does the sun rise and set in the same direction all year round? If I recall, sun rises to the east and sets to the west, therefore if I find a nice western facing location - will that be consistently decent all year round? I know it's not always about shooting into the sun, but still it's the information about the sun that's key here for me.
Another question I guess I have is about the better times to take shots. If we were to use the official sunrise and sunset times given by the met office or weather websites, what sort of time frame around those times do YOU find interesting and beautiful? I remember waking up before 5 the other week and the sky was unrealistically red and light, it was beautiful, but the best I could do was grab my phone and shoot out the bedroom window! This ties back to my previous point of knowing locations... if only I had some destinations in mind I could have gone out in the car to try get the light while it was as spectacular as it was.
Feel free to to answer here any or all of my questions here, open to advice and recommendations too. Thanks for reading this relatively long post.
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The sun rises and sets at a slightly different location each day.
Try THIS and set your location. It will show you where and when the sun will rise and set at any location each day. I use it when going to new locations.
Yes, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. If you go on any weather site, it should tell you the times of sunrise and sunset. You are best getting there in plenty of time to set things up. No point rushing, as you don't know what can crop up. I take clients up into the Teide National Park, Tenerife, on sunset and stars trips. I usually get them there around 45 minutes before sunset. That way they can get shots in what you call the "Golden Hour" 1 hour prior to sunset to 1 hour after.
You will find you get the best colours after the sun has actully gone down. This is when you get the yellows and deep oranges.
A word of warning though, check what the weather is going to be like the previous day for your sunrises. No point getting up at 3am to find out there's no sun there, as it's cloudy! The same goes for sunsets, check out the weather forecast the day you want to go.
Where I live, Puerto Santiago, Tenerife, the sun sets from over the Island of La Gomera in the winter months, to the far side of the Island of La Palma, which is quite some distance away. I live right on the West coast, 100 meters from the sea, so I get some amazing sunsets and only have to go from my living room to my balcony! So, if it's cloudy I don't have to travel far and won't be disappointed. Hope this helps.
I use the Photographers Ephmeris which gives sunrise/set times (and moon) and angles for anywhere in the world. There is a free version for PC, and I've just bought the Android version for my phone.
Checking the weather forecast is invaluable (but by no means 100% reliable!!) and I check 2 or 3 just to ensure they're all singing from the same hymnsheet!
As said above the time for the ideal light is an roughly hour before sunset and after sunrise - the so called golden hour (the "hour" can vary depending on the time of year in the UK - much shorter in the summer, much longer in the winter!). Aim to be in your chosen spot a while before to give you chance to scout around and check some compositions out. Pre sunrise and post sunset can give some superb colour but then you lose the direct light on the landscape (if you're shooting over water, this doesn't really matter as much due to the reflected light of the surface of the water)
Hope that helps.
Quote: Checking the weather forecast is invaluable (but by no means 100% reliable
not in the Peak anyway
Quote: Aim to be in your chosen spot a while before to give you chance to scout around and check some compositions out
or be like the rest of us sprinting up Higger or mam tor 2 mins before it hits the horizon, only to find that your completely enveloped in mist and you should have been somewhere else.
but then every time ive seen Martin out there its been perfect conditions so id take his advise
I only offered the advice Phil, didn't say that's what i do!!
Thanks all, it is all very valued feedback. I will try the PC version of the Photo Ephem you recommended, and I've got an android so may purchase it if I feel it is very useful to me.
Bit of clarification about this golden hour, if you dont mind. You say one hour before and after sunset. Then another person says "one hour before sunset and one hour after sunrise". Which is accurate here? Don't mean to be pedantic!
Finally, great feedback so far, but not much about finding locations that'd be good to shoot at. Atm my plan I guess is still to try checking OS maps for high spots and hope that the high spot overlooks a scenic area I say high spots because I'd like a clear view of the sky.
before sunrise is rather good when overlooking water, as the colour picks up in the water and you have sillouettes elsewhere but get on the rocks and ridges and you will find you have colour in the sky and 6 stops difference with the rocks in darkness because you have no direct light on anything. yes grads help balance things out some
as the suns pops the horizon, the first rays of light catch the edges of everything and its warm lovely light, for me its all over 10 mins after sunrise and then the first of the morning light sets in as the warm tones fade. occasionally if there is some nice cloud cover with colour still there, the sky will remain interesting for up to 1/2 hr.
sunset is a reversal, great light for anything like 30 mins before it sinks, but over water its best to wait untill it drops as the sky is ofen iits most intese colour 10 mins after sunset but then you have nothing to illuminate rocks etc.
its a delicate balance of what you want. and dont forget its often better to keep the sun out of frame and catch the light to the sides
Hi, Just my 2 pence worth (2 pence not worth a lot)
Anyways you say "I want to find places to shoot" IMO you cannot go far wrong with a visit to the local library on a cold wet day with nothing better to do, sit and look through some of the books on the UK published not just by photographers but also artist to get inspiration on places to visit, although the hours before and after sunrise/sunset tend to give the best light also during those days with mist rolling over the hills and valleys or the days when it's very overcast can give you a photographic opportunity that only pops it's head one time, you miss it, it is gone forever.
As I say JMO
Another vote for the Ephemeris free app for iPhone.
The most dramatic skies tend to be from 45 minutes to 15 minutes before sunrise and from 15 minutes to 45 minutes after sunset, i.e before the sun actually peeps above the horizon in the morning and after it has just disappeared from view in the evening.
Remember your tripod and don't be afraid to do a bit of exposure bracketing. Also don't be afraid to use a wee bit of fill-in flash to push some light into foregrounds.
Thanks again all for advice and opinions very useful and thankful for it!
in regards to finding new places Russ, that isn't a bad idea. Just to clarify though, I meant the best areas close to me within 5-10 miles say. Somewhere I can go to off the cuff to try make the most of a surprisingly nice sky - if that makes sense.
I think finding the places yourself is half the fun. If you only go where everyone else goes, you'll get the same pictures. Find something different.
Do your research in the daytime, use local maps but also get around and see the places for yourself and work out where the sun will rise/set, then make sure you are in the right place in enough time to set up. You will be very lucky to get anything at really short notice.
when you find a good place, you can go back at different times to see the effect of light and time of year on your pictures.
The sun rises and sets in different places all year.
A rule of thumb: the sun only rises and sets exactly east-west around the equinoxes. Midsummer it rises nearly north east and sets nearly north west. Midwinter it rises around south east and sets around south west. That will be when you can see a clear horizon, as will the exact time. If you have hills around, this will modify this data a little.
Its worth visiting places at different times of year too - some locations work better in winter than summer & vice-versa.
North of Scotland for sunsets, one of the best places as we get the light late into the night. Couple of pic's taken overlooking the Moray Firth from the putting green in Nairn.
The dry and sunny (this year anyway) north west corner of Scotland for sunsets.
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