Friday, March 6, 2020
If you love sunrise but miss too many of them because it comes too darned early, this Sunday is your chance! We go back on Daylight Savings Time which means that sunrise will be an hour later than it has been. And Sunday will be the latest sunrise time until next winter. So seize the day, set your alarm, and get out there on Sunday!
This dramatic scene was shot in Acadia National Park in Maine. The sun broke through heavy mist just briefly to create this fiery sunrise.
Some sunrise shooting tips:
- Pick a location ahead of time so you know where you want to be on Sunday morning.
- Arrive on location at least an hour before official sunrise time. Why? Because the sky will already be getting light, and some of the best shots are possible long before the sun actually breaks the horizon. The colors are better, and the contrast is not as intense as it will be once the sun appears.
- Shoot on a tripod. Long exposures are fine before the sun breaks the horizon. Plus you can stop your lens down to f/16 or better for great Depth of Field in the low light. Use either a cable shutter release, or a remote trigger, or set your camera to a 2-second delay if you do not have either of them. That will reduce any camera shake when you press the shutter for long exposures.
- In the predawn light, start with an ISO of 800. As the sky begins to lighten, you can reduce the ISO to 400 or 200. Pay close attention to the light intensity as official sunrise time approaches, since the amount of light will increase quickly. Be prepared to change the shutter speed and f/stop as the skies lighten to be sure of getting a good exposure.
- Set your camera on Aperture Priority
- Set your f/stop to f/16 or f/22 for good Depth of Field
- The shutter speed will set itself, and as long as you are on a tripod, any shutter speed will be fine.
- Autofocus works well as long as you are careful. Find an area of the scene that A) you want sharp, and B) has some contrast so that the autofocus can grab onto that subject. A hard edge is also helpful, like the edge of a tree trunk or a line of mountain ridges. There MUST be some contrast in the area of the image you are focusing on for autofocus to work. Live View is not very effective in low light since it has trouble grabbing onto anything to focus on.
- Check the Histogram every few shots to make sure exposures are good. Remember, the light will be constantly increasing.
- Lens choice is yours, depending on the scene you are shooting. A wide angle lens will include more of the scene but the sun (when it finally appears) will be small. A moderate telephoto lens (70-200mm) will include less of the scene but the sun will appear larger. And a long telephoto (300 or 400mm) will make the sun look huge but will eliminate most of the scene. Bring 'em all to get a variety of views and interpretations. But keep in mind that when the sun does appear, it will move VERY quickly so having two camera bodies, each with a different lens, will help you get more shots in the short time you will have.
- Once the sun appears, it will most likely appear bright white in your images, and you will get the "blinkies" indicating overexposure. But that is OK since the brightness of the sun will be many times brighter than the rest of the scene. If you change exposure to reduce the brightness of the sun, the rest of the scene will be rendered too dark and underexposed, resulting in too much noise in your images.
- Take lots of shots. You can't take too many. Then, after you download them onto your computer, you can select the ones that work best for you.
So get out there and shoot. And have fun!
1/4 sec at f/11, ISO 200. Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 17mm on Canon 7D. Gitzo tripod with ballhead.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness." --Sapna Reddy