Monday, October 11, 2010

The Days are Shorter - Go Shoot a Sunrise!

Daybreak - Fine Art Prints available
I'm not a morning person.  If it were an option, I'd outlaw alarm clocks and convince the mighty rooster that there's no need to announce the rising of the sun.  That said, sunrise is also my favorite time of day for photography.  Can you appreciate the problem?

Here's the good news. The days are getting shorter and at this time of year you don't have to set the alarm to 4 am in order to meet the sun.  Challenge yourself to get out there with your camera to enjoy the event.   Here's a quick checklist to help you on your way.

  1. Make an appointment - It's awfully difficult to find a nice location to shoot when you're driving around in the dark.  Scout out some locations during the day and commit to a particular place for your sunrise shoot.  Watch for interesting subjects you can use to anchor your foreground and try to visualize how you can compose the shot when you arrive in the morning.

  2. Prep your gear - The night before you intend to shoot your sunrise, get all of your gear ready to go so all you have to do is get out of bed and go.  Charge your batteries, clear your memory cards, clean your lens and setup your camera (ISO 100, f/20-22 for nice depth of field, aperture priority, etc.).  Bag your camera, remote, filters, tripod, etc. and set it next to your car keys and an LED headlamp so you can find your way once you reach your location.  If you're going to be facing cool temps, consider putting your gear in your car trunk (pull the batteries first so they don't get zapped by the cold) so you don't "fog up" when you pull your gear out of the bag.  If you do this, DON'T FORGET YOUR BATTERIES and reset your camera settings! :-)

  3.  Set your alarm - Jump online (I like WeatherBug) to find out when the sun is expected to rise.  Plan to reach your location between 45 and 60 minutes BEFORE the scheduled sunrise.  Some of the most spectacular shots are available before the sun breaks the horizon.  While you're online, take a look at the radar to see if you might be lucky enough for some minor cloud cover.  Those clouds will help provide the sun with a canvas upon which to paint the amazing morning colors.
That's it!  Get out there and enjoy the morning.  Whether you get capture a "wall worthy" shot or just enjoy the solitude and beauty of the sunrise, you'll be sure to enjoy the experience.  Have fun and post some links to the results.  I'd love to see them.


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