How to photograph the Sunrise

Overview

If you wake up early or are an early-riser then there are some photographs which you can take of the Sky. Early morning is a brilliant time to take photographs as your options are brilliant, and you can get some dramatic effects without too much effort. But as per any magnificent photograph you need to do a bit of planning, with regards to where you what to photograph the sunrise, and setting your camera up with the ideal settings to capture the magical moment.

Sunrises usually last approximately twenty minutes, so your window of opportunity is small, thus check your weather application on your phone to see when sunrise would be, and deduct twenty minutes from it. This would then be your ideal time to take the photographs, and thus plan your morning around it, and scout the ideal location beforehand.

Composition

What do you need?

The first step in taking great sunrise photographs is to obtain the correct gear and software. The following indicates the required gear and software with a short description of each:
Equipment
Description
A DSLR Camera
You will need a DSLR camera with Manual capability.
Manual capability will allow you to set the ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Ensure that your camera can operate in low light, and that it has adequate noise filters and ability to handle high ISO values. I personally prefer using Canon cameras.
A Wide angle Lens
You will require as well a good lens with the ability to set it to manual focus. Manual focus is required because the camera will not have the ability to focus automatically, and you would use manual focus to focus your star to pinpoint sharpness. It would be good if your lens has the ability to have fast-aperture wide-angle lens (ideally in the f/1.4 – f/2.8 max aperture range). I like to shoot in the 18mm range, and any lower mm range would be brilliant, as you would like to shoot as much as possible of the stars.
A Sturdy Tripod
You would require a sturdy tripod due to you shooting long exposures. Ensure as well that your tripod which will not shake when there is some wind.
Ensure as well that your tri-pod’s head can rotate horizontal and vertical. This will enable you to take landscape or portrait photographs.
Chair
To have something to sit-on during the process
Patience
You would require a lot of patience capturing the perfect sunrise shot

 

Planning for your photograph

Planning in my opinion is one of the most important parts of taking low-light photographs, and thus planning your photograph of the sunrise forms an integral part of your photograph. Make sure that you have adequate foreground subjects to create some perspective in your photograph. 

Setting-up

This section will provide you with the technique for setting up (usually in a hurry or very fast) to photograph the Sunrise
The following steps show you how to get ready:
1.       Connect your camera to your Tri-Pod
2.       Remove your camera-strap (the wind may cause the camera strap to move and thus have an negative effect on your camera)
3.       Set your camera to M- Manual mode
4.       Set your camera to single shot shooting 

Focusing

You can set your lens to AF (Auto Focus as there is enough light coming in to your camera to focus on the sunrise.

Camera Settings

Overview

The following guide will make it easier for you to get to the right setting for your camera, but you must always take test shots with different settings until you are happy with the outcome of your photo.

I would recommend using a wide focal length, as this will increase your visibility of the landscape or seascape in your photographs.

To get dramatic red-colours in your photograph, aim your camera to the sky, click your shoot button half way so that the camera focus on the sky. Move your camera downwards towards the sunrise, and then press your shutter button fully down and take the photograph. Important note: Don’t stare into the sun as this will cause blindness, and even more so via your viewfinder as this have a magnifying effect. After you have taken your photograph then view it in the playback, and evaluate it. Things to look for in your evaluation is: 1. is your white balance correct (via your histogram), 2. Is your horizon level, 3. Is there enough detail in your photograph?

I usually use a wide focal length at sunrise to ensure that I can get as much as possible (e.g. 18mm) of the sunrise in my frame, but this is a personal preference as there would be scenarios where you would use a more focused shot where you want to have the sun a lot larger, because at 18mm the sun would be extremely small.

Some settings considerations:

Live View: Switch off the Live View functionality, as this will reduce your battery power.

Noise Reduction: Turn On your camera’s Long Exposure Reduction setting (consult your camera manual to do this).

Metering Mode: Set your camera’s metering mode to centre weighted average, as this will increase the amount of reds in your camera, thus first try to focus on a ‘red’ region. Then move your camera to the sunrise and take the photograph.

Manual or AV: If you like controlling your camera’s settings then set your camera to M (Manual), but if you are not so confident then set your camera to AV (Aperture priority) and play around with your f-stop. If your camera is in AV mode then it would allow you to change the ISO as well, thus I would suggest reading the next sections as well. If your camera is in M (Manual) then this will provide you with greater flexibility to set the right conditions to your favour.

There is no one “right” setting to take sunrise photo, as your light conditions changes constantly. And the following sections will provide you with a guide how to get the ideal settings. 

Primary Settings to set

White Balance: White balance is always a sensitive are, and if you are shooting in RAW and going to edit your photographs later on then I would skip this section.

I would suggest setting your camera’s white balance to tungsten (3200K) as this will give your photograph a warmer feeling, which brings the red’s in your photograph more to the front. But my wife likes to set the white balance to cloudy (even if there are no clouds) and this generates more dramatic colours in your photograph. I will leave this decision over to you, to determine your own preference.

Aperture: I would recommend using a wide aperture range to increase the depth of field – from f/7.1 to f/16. I would first suggest using an aperture of f/16 and working your way slowly down to f/7.1. This will allow you to evaluate the depth of field to take into account any of your foreground objects in relation to your background (sunrise) and how it affects your focus of the different objects.

Shutter Speed: It is essential that you use a tri-pod for shooting sunrises, as this will assist your camera in shooting photos in low light, and with would allow you to take photos at the correct ISO and shutter speed. I usually use a shutter speed of 1/30 to compensate for the f/16 aperture and high ISO levels.

ISO: Set your camera to a low ISO – depending on your light. The higher the ISO the more noise levels there will be in your photo. Thus I would not recommend that you set your ISO higher than 400, but keep it in the range of between 100 and 200. If there is some clouds in the sky where your scene gets darker, then only I would suggest to set your ISO between 400 and 800

Exposure notes: If you like controlling your camera’s settings then set your camera to M (Manual), but if you are not so confident then set your camera to TV (Time priority) and play around with your shutter speed. If your camera is in TV mode then it would allow you to change the ISO as well, thus I would suggest reading the next sections as well. If your camera is in M (Manual) then this will provide you with greater flexibility to set the right conditions to your favour.

Some additional types of photos

Some additional ideas for taking sunrise photographs are:
·         Silhouette Photo
·         Photos of Trees
·         Rising Sun
·         Misty Landscape 

Silhouette Photo

Take a silhouette photo of animals:
Setting
Value
Exposure Time
1/200
Aperture
f/5.6
ISO
500
Exposure Bias
0-step
Lenses
18mm
Camera
Canon
Model
760D

 

Setting
Value
Exposure Time
1/200
Aperture
f/8
ISO
100
Exposure Bias
0-step
Lenses
18mm
Camera
Canon
Model
760D

Photos of Trees

Take a photo of trees as your primary focus:
Setting
Value
Exposure Time
1/640
Aperture
f/6.3
ISO
250
Exposure Bias
0-step
Lenses
18mm
Camera
Canon
Model
760D

 

Setting
Value
Exposure Time
1/320
Aperture
f/5.6
ISO
100
Exposure Bias
0-step
Lenses
18mm
Camera
Canon
Model
760D

 

Misty Landscape

Take a photograph of the early morning mist:
Setting
Value
Exposure Time
1/640
Aperture
f/10
ISO
100
Exposure Bias
0-step
Lenses
18mm
Camera
Canon
Model
760D

 

Setting
Value
Exposure Time
1/640
Aperture
f/10
ISO
100
Exposure Bias
0-step
Lenses
18mm
Camera
Canon
Model
760D

  
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s