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Sunrise Photography Advice

Sunrise Photography Advice - Improve your sunrise shots with these few tips.

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Landscape and Travel

Photo by Sezz.

  • Wide angle lens
  • Telephoto zoom
  • Tripod – you'll be using longer exposures and working hand-held can result in shake
  • Torch/head torch – it's hard to set up your equipment in the dark
  • ND filter – will help if the sky is really bright, causing contrast problems with the ground
  • Warm-up filter – give light a boost
  • Graduated filter - help with contrast problems between the sky and land
Now is the perfect time for a spot of sunrise photography as you can still get up at a reasonable-ish hour to capture the sun rising but give it a few weeks and you'll have to be getting up in the middle of the night to capture the same shot. Don't automatically think you need to travel off to the countryside either as even though rolling hills do look great at sunrise, the strong shapes found in cities and towns can work extremely well too.

You need to be facing east, with your equipment set up at least twenty minutes before the sun rises. Your local news channel or a quick search online will give you the sun rise times you'll also be able to check what the weather's going to be like that evening/next day while you're there. A clear evening will increase your chances of capturing a cracking sunset that's bursting with colour but don't be too down-hearted if there's a little cloud cover as it will help diffuse the light.

Sunrises can have a slightly cooler feel than sunsets so use the cloudy or shade white-balance setting or pop on a warm-up filter to warm the shot up.

If you want to capture the ever popular sweeping vista pick up your wide-angle lens and maximise the depth of field by using a small aperture. To pull in detail or for shots that focus on the sun, use your telephoto lens but do not look down the viewfinder directly at the sun as this will damage your eyes. 

Don't meter from the sun either instead, take your reading from just to the side of the sun before you take your shot. One more tip for when the sky's your focus, never shoot with the horizon running through the middle of the shot.

A particularly bright sky sat against what the camera sees as a dark mass of land can mean you have exposure problems. Bracketing and merging the shots once you're home will solve this problem or try using a grad filter to balance out the sky.

Try turning your sunrise shots into a Canvas or even a Photo Book collection. Albelli have many designs for you to pick from and they're currently running a buy one, get one free offer on all large Photo Book designs.

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