7 tips for shooting a sunrise
Nothing like sunrise or sunset if you ask us. Experiencing a sunrise and photographing in a beautiful location is one of our favorite and regular activities on holiday. Of course, when shooting a sunrise, there is a lot to look at. And we’d love to discuss that here so that you can capture that beautiful moment on camera as well.
Photographing a sunrise
1 Explore the location
Exploring the location the day before is always good. This way you already know from which angle you can best take a picture. Because looking for a place in the dark is not always easy. Also finding the right parking for your location is not a bad plan. You don’t want to miss the sunrise because you don’t find a parking space on location. Don’t you have time to study the location? Then you can always look on Instagram and see how other photographers have handled this. Knowing the location is perhaps the most important step when photographing a sunrise.
2 Keep in mind the weather
Taking into account the weather is also a very important factor where we sometimes still go wrong. In Cape Town, for example, we got up early to photograph a sunrise on the coast. And on arrival there turned out to be a huge fog bank where you could see no further than a few meters in the depths. Something we could have known should we have investigated this in advance. Don’t always rely on Google’s weather forecast, but ask locals about the weather. Because this is usually more accurate. After all, they know the climate like no other. A cloudy day is in many cases better for the photo. The colours reflect on the clouds and you suffer less from bright and disturbing light.
3 Be on time
Being on time is of course essential when photographing a sunrise. So you have to have something for it. In Italy, for example, we got up at 3 a.m. to travel to Saturnia and take pictures at sunrise. Something that gives you satisfaction when you see the pictures afterwards. We use the Sun Surveyor application to find out the right hour of sunrise. This application, which is paying, gives you not only the right hour but also the place where the sun rises and sets. Actually, you can spend a whole day tracking where the sun is going to be. Very convenient and one of our favorite photography apps.
4 Right material
Taking the right material is of course also very important! Because of the low shutter speed, which you best use, a tripod with shutter is essential, for example. Knowing your camera’s settings through and through also helps with creative photography. For example, do you use a long shutter speed with water? Then you get a nice dynamic and soft image with a lot of color. Something we’re a huge fan of. Never use a flash at sunrise! As well as filters we are not a fan, but that is a personal opinion. An extra battery can be useful. A long shutter speed consumes much more. Curious about our material? Then be sure to take a look here.
5 Correct settings
The correct settings for photographing a sunrise are different for every situation. If we take pictures of a person for Instagram, we do so with an aperture below f.4. But if we take environmental photos of the sunrise itself, we do this with aperture higher than f.8 and below f.20. The shutter speed is then re-applied to the aperture. In addition, you also keep the ISO value as low as possible (100 to 300). That way you avoid noise. A tripod is necessary at these settings! You can also shoot with the automatic mode but this of course gives you few creative possibilities (other than the composition).
6 Avoid lens flare
One of the most common mistakes when photographing a sunrise is undoubtedly lens flare or “sunspots”. This occurs when you shoot straight into the light source. It is best to avoid this lens flare with a lens hood on your lens. Or by using a different composition. A UV Filter can also fix this problem but we are not a fan of this. In our opinion, the authenticity of the photo is gone. Watch out! Sometimes lensflare can be a creative way of photographing. Lensflare is not always negative or ugly!
7 Correct post-processing
A correct post-processing actually starts with the settings on your camera. If you want to do a good edit where you have little loss of quality, you should shoot your photos in RAW. Please note, you need a special editing program such as Adobe Camera Raw. If you shoot in RAW, you should not take into account the white balance when shooting a sunrise. If you take JPEG photos, you should set the white balance to cloudy or shadowy. Otherwise, you will have too much quality loss afterwards in the operation. When editing a photo at sunrise, keep the colors soft and subtle, so stay away from the saturation control and curve as much as possible when machining. This gives a much better effect! Night photography is okay.
Additional tips for shooting a sunrise
HDR, or renamed High Dynamic Range, is a feature that some cameras have. This feature then allows your camera to take different photos with a different light setting. These photos are then merged by the camera or a program on the computer giving you the perfect exposed photo. This feature is especially useful if you don’t get the picture perfectly exposed due to too great a contrast between light and dark. With this function you always need a tripod!
Stay a little longer
After shooting a sunrise, stay seated for a while. Because now it’s golden hour. Which is often a light spectacle. In addition, this is also the moment when many animals wake up. The chance of a special and beautiful photo is certainly still possible!
The composition is of course also a very important fact when photographing a sunrise. Because this is besides lighting the most important creative influence. Therefore, study the location carefully and see if you can put something in the foreground, for example. This can be a plant but also a beautiful rock or even an animal (provided some luck).