Early-risers and outdoor enthusiasts often love to see the sunrise. For the photographers among us, there is no better time to be outdoors with your camera and tripod than half an hour before sunrise. Those are the 30-minute windows of time that are filled with anticipation, never quite knowing what to expect.
Depending on your location, you may have fantastic shots right from your back garden, balcony, or window, but for the majority of us, a little travel will be required to see the sunrise in its full glory.
To find the perfect spot, some weather sites or apps for your phone can give you close to exact times of sunrise and sunset each day, as well as use your location data to let you know the best location for you to be positioned to get terrific shots. If you have been following a photographer or two who seem to have all the luck capturing magnificent photos at sunrise, it is likely they are getting data telling them where to be by when and it’s not, therefore, down to luck at all.
Depending on the gear you have and your thirst for adventure, you may want to travel to the location on the morning, or for the more adventurous looking for a unique experience, plan to overnight it the night before by either hiking and wild-camping, or if you have a motorhome, drive to an open spot where you have nearby access to open landscape such as a view across a lake, or a hill top.
As soon as the sky begins to lighten is when to get your gear prepped for shooting. Daylight tends to be up to a half an hour before sunrise and it is this time that nature is most active too, so once you have your sunrise photos, it is the perfect opportunity for some wildlife spotting or snapping photos of birds.
Getting the Most from Your Morning Photography Experiences
1) Have the right camera and know its settings
For shooting still photography, the DSLR still reigns supreme. There are many more types of cameras but most of the advanced models are better suited to action photography or motion shoots. A DSLR is ideal for shooting stills in low light conditions, which you will be as there is less light in the morning, in particular, just as the sun begins to rise. Try shooting at a low ISO setting with a high aperture for your first shots and adjust your settings as the light environment changes.
2) Be prepared to have multiple days of experimenting
If you know your equipment and are experienced, you could get great photos on your first morning shooting in low-light conditions and adjusting the settings to capture the different views and depths. However, every morning, for this type of photography in the UK, expect to only have up to 5-minutes per sunrise. Chances are though, even if you do get terrific photos, you will be back out experimenting again at some point, perhaps from a different location.
3) Include photos of what is around you, even if the sun is left out
Some of the most gorgeous photos of nature are those taken at sunrise when the light effect on trees, long grasses, lakes, and ponds all take on a different appearance because of the changing light conditions.
When you are shooting photography at sunrise, take a moment to take in all that is around you. Appreciate the lighting conditions on the environment and try to capture as much detail as you can.
You can get great photographs of nature and wildlife at sunrise, regardless of whether you manage to capture the sun or not. The key is being prepared by having the right gear and getting yourself set up at a good location around half an hour before the expected time of sunrise.
Once you have your photos taken, consider printing one or more of your favourites. This way they will have so much more meaning to them as each time you look at the prints, you will evoke the memories and recall the whole experience of being out in the open that morning snapping tranquil photos of the beautiful outdoors at the most peaceful time of the day. That would be a print worth framing to display in your hallway to see each morning.