I am sure that there was a song named Sunrise Sunset? Who sang it I have no idea! Answers please, on a postcard…..
I was asked just last Thursday by a good photo chum (Mark, you know who you are) about sunrises and sunsets. There is, and has been for a while, an opinion that these are just becoming so cliched that interest is waning. To a point I tend to agree – not with the quality of the photography necessarily, but with the sheer volume now ‘out there’.
So, how can we shoot either or both of these beautiful sights and maybe try to make ours a bit different? Here is my six penn’orth.
I tend to go for the late autumn/winter/early spring for these. Why is probably obvious to you – summer entails alarm settings for ludicrous o’clock 🙂 Usually I head for the coast but it is not always necessary to do so. Sunrises and their effects can equally be shot inland.
Firstly the location is checked and the forecast reviewed. A great tool for this is The Photographer’s Ephemeris – available as an app or on the big screen. Google it! It gives times, directional info and all sorts of very helpful information.
Secondly, I always aim to be at the chosen location AT LEAST 30 minutes prior to sunrise, earlier if possible. Why? It gives plenty of time to position yourself to best advantage looking for a good foreground, if appropriate, and the sky can display wonderful colours before the sun rises above the horizon, skyline.
My preferred ‘in camera’ option for metering is matrix/segment metering – that way the whole of the scene is measured and averaged out rather than just one very bright area. We can always use exposure compensation (+/-) if the histogram is too far to the left or right, and we can re-align in post processing to finesse the shot later.
Consider, also, if you want the sun as a feature of the shot, a golden ball rising higher and higher, OR if you want to show the effects of the sunrise, with your back to the sun, showing beautiful light on say, mountains, or a hillside.
Of course, you can and maybe should do both! Secure every possibility out of the shoot.
Generally, and this is general as each location etc will call for different setups, I ALWAYS use a tripod. I try to use lens lengths from around 24mm (wider than that and the landscape is pushed too far back) and 200mm – for sun/sky/landscape close ups. I also, time permitting, try for both landscape AND portrait format – the latter can look much more dramatic. I set the camera to A(perture) and dial in around f8. Too high and you run the risk of blur as the sun moves. That said, if the light is fairly brightish an aperture of f22 can give a great star or sunburst effect! I aim for a low ISO to maintain picture quality – around 100 – and rely on the tripod’s stability to accommodate a longer exposure if that is how it turns out.
This is not definitive, and you will find your own ‘best way’, but this may help you to get started, or restarted! I would love your thoughts.
Sunset will follow in the next blog…….
Shot at 200mm from Llyn y Mymbyr lake.
Shot at 24mm using the rocks as a foreground.
Shot near my village, hand held so at 400 ISO and lens at 62mm
Shot at 60mm and 1/6th second at f18 and 100 ISO