Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Top 10 Sunrise, Sunset Tips

  1. Never, ever, look directly at the sun, especially through your camera.
  2. Know where the sun rises/sets and keep an eye out during the day for locations that will have some foreground interest, like a tree or boat, or reflections on water etc.
  3. Plan ahead so you are in place in plenty of time before the sun comes up or sets.
  4. A little underexposure is generally good as it will help to give warm, saturated colours. Switch to manual and bracket exposures (take several shots with different exposures, not just what the camera recommends). For sunrise I find 1.5 to 2 stops below the meter reading works well. Sunsets are a bit more unpredictable, as the sun is already in the sky, so try metering from a patch of sky without the sun in it. Use the histogram to judge exposure after every shot, as the light levels will usually be constantly changing.
  5. Set your cameras' white balance to cloudy and/or use a subtle warm-up filter (Lee Filter's red enhancer is expensive but works brilliantly) to keep colours warm. Yes, you can fix this in Photoshop, but much better to get it right in the camera in my opinion.
  6. Dress well for the climate and season, as you could be standing around for a while. It can be unexpectedly chilly at sunrise, and the temperature can drop swiftly after sunset, so keep yourself comfortable, safe and free from distractions.
  7. Consider how easy/difficult/safe getting to or from your location will be in the dark, and adjust your plans accordingly.
  8. A head torch fitted with a green or red lens is a good idea, so you can see where you are going and operate your camera without messing up your night-vision.
  9. When photographing a sunset, have a good look round with your torch before you leave to avoid leaving anything behind.
  10. When you think you've got the best shot, don't look back, as you can guarantee that the moment you pack up your gear and head back to the car the light will get even better :-)

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