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  • Writer's pictureDarleen Prem

Tips for Sunrise Photography

Everyone loves a great sunrise image. Below are some tips to better images if your an early bird who loves to get out there in the morning for some great images.

Sunrise at driftwood beach
Capturing the beauty of an early morning sunrise.

If you love getting up early in the morning then learning to capture the beauty of the moment will leave you with some great images to print and share. So what makes a great sunrise image? The answer to that is a broad one, but to start is arriving at the right time. The best time to capture the light at sunrise is about a half hour before the sun comes up if you are looking for a colored sky. If you would like to capture a little of sun actually rising it will be just at the moment it peeks up from the horizon. Anything after the sun has come up will be difficult as the sun will be a bright white ball. Below are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Arrive early. The best time to take sunrise images is before the sun actually comes up from the horizon. It will provide you with the best colorful sky. Once the sun comes up the sky will brighten and you will lose the colors you most likely are trying to capture. I usually arrive about an hour before sunrise.

2. Stop down your settings. While I take most pictures at their proper exposure stopping down your camera settings 1/3 to a full stop will give you deeper color. It will bring out the purples and pinks to more defined color. The image below was taken at -1. By lowering the exposure in this image I was able to achieve much deeper blues. In post processing I decreased some of the shadows off the water and raised the saturation on the sky.

Sunrise at Jekyll Island
Reduced exposure to -1 for deeper colors

3. Compose your image to draw the eye. ​ Ideally if you can include something of interest in the foreground of your image that would be great as I did with the driftwood tree. But clouds, water, people or other objects of interest are wonderful also. Many times clouds can be interesting subjects in themselves. You can also compose just using waves and reflections.

4. Raise your ISO. Your going to be taking pictures at a near dark setting. Raising your ISO will allow you to increase your shutter speed. I did not have my tripod on this particular trip so the images above are hand held, ideally you should use a tripod to avoid blur at lower shutter speeds.

Photography is an art. There is no right or wrong way to present an image. Some photographers given this same scene might have chosen a different focus. It is all about what YOU like. We will be covering landscape photography in a our fall workshops! Please feel free to share your sunrise images, I would love to see them! @darleenpremphotography

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