Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Photographing Sunrises and Sunsets


Photographing Sunrises and Sunsets

Think Ahead - While sometimes wonderful sunrise and sunset shots can be taken spontaneously without any forethought it’s often the case that the best ones come out of planning. Scope out places that might be good for sunsets in the day or two before your shoot. Look for interesting places where you might not only be able to see the sun track all the way down but where there will be opportunities for shots that include foreground elements and silhouettes. Sunsets only take half an hour or so so you want to think about these elements before they start or you might miss the shots you’re after.

Find out when the sun will set or rise and get there at least half an hour before hand as it’s often in the lead up to and the time after the sun appears or disappears that the real magic happens.
http://www.sunrisesunset.com/ is the best site for this.

Keep an eye on the weather also. Usally the times where there is cloud around that the real action happens! Be aware of days when there is dust or smoke in the air as they can produce amazing results also.

Consider ahead of time what equipment you might need. Include a tripod, lenses that will give you a range of focal lengths, extra batteries etc.

Shoot at a variety of focal lengths - wide angle can create sweeping landscape shots but if you want the sun itself to be a feature of the shot you’ll want to be able to zoom right in.

Keep in mind that the sun is just half a degree across so when you shoot with a wide lens it will only be taking up a reasonably small part of the photo. If you want it to be a feature of your shot you’ll need to zoom in on it using anything from a 200mm lens upwards. This will increase your need for a tripod!

Be aware that when you look at the sun at the best of times it can be dangerous but when you look through a magnifying lens it can be quite dangerous is the sun is still too high in the sky.

Silhouettes as focal points - As with all photos, sunsets need a point of interest and one of the best ways to add one to a picture is to try to incorporate some sort of Silhouette into the shot. This could be a mountain range, a palm tree or a pier or a person.

Rule of thirds - While you can always break the rule it’s often a good idea to place elements like the horizon, sun, silhouettes etc off centre.

Shoot at a variety of exposures - if you let your camera decide what shutter length to shoot at you’re likely to get a shot that doesn’t really capture the beauty of the light. Quite often the shot will be under exposed because the sky is still reasonably light.

Switch your camera into aperture or shutter priority mode and to take a variety of shots at different exposures.

Bracketing - Another technique to try to get the right exposure is ‘bracketing’. If one of the images doesn't please you, then with bracketing you can use High Dynamic Range to combine 3 or more images to make a correct exposure .

If possible shoot in Raw Mode for more control.

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