How to make the most out of your
Sunrise or Sunset Photography!

How many times have you gone to capture those stunning sunrises or sunsets only to grab your camera, take the photo and then look back on the image only to realise that actually your camera hasn’t really done justice to the beautiful colours that were in the sky. Well, don’t worry! Because we’ve been there too!

If you’re hoping to capture some beautiful shots of the Solstice today, then keep reading for our top tips on getting the most out of your sunrises and sunsets!

Know Your Location

This will greatly increase your chances of success if you have pre planned your shoot. It’ll allow you to choose exactly the right location to go for whether you’re wanting to shoot at sunrise or sunset. Whether you need a foreground subject or a landmark or none of the above, remembering that you’ll want to be composing for interest.

Try to avoid positioning the horizon in the middle of the frame, while this can sometimes work, most of the time it’s just a bit too symmetrical and can make the final photo uninteresting. Instead, shift the horizon in line with what part of your scene has more drama to it – if you’ve got a moody cloud filled sky, you might want that to take up two thirds of your frame or if you’ve got a stunning reflection on water and a bland sky, you might want to shift it so there’s two thirds of your frame water rather than sky – you want to be able to draw the viewer into your shot.

Adjust Your White Balance

Potentially you’ve heard of the phrase ‘golden hour’, when the sun is low in the sky and the light becomes warm, producing some golden hues but one you might be less familiar with is the phrase ‘blue hour’. This refers to the time before sunrise when the light is cool. Providing you with more of those cooler hues such as blues and the really light pinks.

Depending on the time of day and the light, you may want to adjust your White Balance in camera, to compensate or enhance the effect.

Try Shooting Silhouettes

This is a simple but dramatic technique for golden hour. Find yourself a foreground subject, something simple like a tree, windmill, or lighthouse, set your camera up so that the sky is properly exposed and then your subject will appear as a dark silhouetted shape instead.

If you don’t want your subject to be a silhouette then try adding an additional light source to them, we love the Rotolight NEO 3 LED light as a portable lighting solution, to enable you to capture some incredible portraits against the setting or rising sun.

Use HDR or Bracketing

To really maximise the impact of your shot in camera, choosing to shoot in HDR or to use bracketing could be a good idea. Bracketing will allow the camera to capture the full range of tones within the scene by taking one underexposed image, to capture all of your highlight detail, a correctly exposed image, to capture all of your mid tones, and one overexposed image, which will capture all of the detail that’s in the shadows. You’ll then need to combine these three images together in editing software to produce your final image.

Most sunrises or sunsets generally contain a lot of highlights and shadows so using this method will add to the dramatic impact of your final shot!

Gear Up with the Right Stuff

A landscape photographers’ best friend is their Tripod. When you’re out for sunrise or sunset, it’s potentially a low light situation and having a steady base for your camera is key to ensure you’re getting the sharpest results possible!

If you’re not wanting to use bracketing or HDR, but so still want to capture all the details in your shots try using filters. Specifically, the Neutral Density (ND) ones. These are essentially dark pieces of glass (with no colour tint) that just sit in front of your lens. These will cut out any unwanted light from passing through so you can still use all those creative settings for your shutter speed without compromising on the final exposure of your shot.

When it comes to a sunrise or sunset, you’ll probably find a graduated ND to be a lot more use.

One final tip from us…

Don’t Leave Too Early!

Wait around until the sun has either completely set passed the horizon or risen (depending on time of day) as the entire dynamic of the sky and scene you’re shooting can change in an instant. Specifically, you’ll notice the tones and colours of the sky become more saturated or dramatic – this can make for some of the most interesting captures!

Take full advantage of the solstice this year and get up early or stay out late while creating some beautiful photos! Don’t forget to tag us @jessops #jessopsmoment if you share any images online!



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