What is a better way to start one of your vacation days from watching and photographing the sunrise as it unfolds over the city you are visiting? And what is best than that city being Athens; the Greek capital!
For a successful early morning wake up with good photographic results, stay a step ahead of your camera! Think ahead about how to get that great photograph of the sunrise and what is required; perfect spot, proper focal length, shooting mode, use of tripod, composition, filters and more.
The following PhotoWalksinAthens.com’s list will point out for you the right direction:
Do your homework and find an appropriate spot in the city. Usually a hill with some panoramic views.
Use a tripod: At this very early hour of the day (still night actually) expect to work with long to very long exposures. The stabilization of your camera on a tripod is necessary. Besides, it will give you a freedom to take some minutes and enjoy the magnificent sunrise as it unfolds over the city you are visiting!
Owning a remote shutter release will be a bonus but not a necessity!
Focal length: When you’re photographing a beautiful landscape with a rising sun, choose a wide-angle focal length between 24mm and 35mm. The sun might be relatively small in your image, but you’ll capture more of the city’s landscape and any clouds that hopefully will be in the scene. Also, the camera won’t have to compensate for quite as wide a dynamic range (dark to bright scale) because the sun is a tiny pinpoint of light.
ISO: Since you are using a tripod choose the lowest possible ISO setting. This ensures a high quality, noise-free image.
Shooting mode: Use aperture priority mode when you photograph a sunrise and, when the sun is in the frame, choose an aperture of f/22 to get the starburst effect on the sun and the city lights. The wider the lens, the more pronounced the starburst effect. Also, make sure the front element of your lens is totally clean. Even a tiny speck of dust can look like a big blob in a picture when you are shooting into the sun and avoid having filters on your lens since an unwanted ghost image of the sun can be created in your frame.
Except if you use a:
Reverse graduated neutral density filter: This filter is darkest in the middle and gradually becomes clear at the top. This filter balances the bright light of the sun with the shadows, bringing the dynamic range into something your digital camera can manage.
Consider practicing HDR photography: HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography is perfect for sunrise/sunset photographs because of the high contrast range these situations have. To capture the entire dynamic range of the scene (most of the shades from dark to bright), take a normal exposure picture, an underexposed one and an over exposed one or you might need more; the greater the contrast range, the greater the number of pictures you need to take. If you don’t already know how, see some tutorial videos or read some blogs on HDR and get to edit your photos in Photoshop or other special programs for spectacular results!
And don’t forget! When you photograph a landscape at sunrise, the quality of the light and the colors change almost by the second. Take lots of frames and use different vantage points and angles if possible.
Try to involve an interesting Foreground Element. If possible, use a photogenic foreground element to add a sense of scale to your image. The more “layers” you have in a scene, the greater the sense of depth you create.
Take great care on how you are placing your Horizon Line. Usually, placing the horizon line in the center of the frame is dull. If the sky is interesting and impressive, place the horizon line at the bottom of the frame remembering the rule of thirds, and vice versa if the city underneath you is of a greater interest.
No matter what, take the time to enjoy the whole experience unfolding before you as it will definitely put you in a better mood and give you a great positive energy throughout the day!
Did you know that watching and photographing the sunrise is also healing for you?
By watching the day begin or end can benefit your body as enjoying the light at its most colorful and varying, is the perfect opportunity to slow down, center your mind, and de-stress.
Anytime you can slow down your rhythms and take a pause or make your mind quiet and just enjoy the moment, is a positive thing. Our usual day demands so much time rushing, worrying and ticking off items on the to-do list that very easily we get wrapped into a dangerous spiral of stress.
Watching a sunrise can help with your mental and physical health, as researchers have found a connection between early morning light exposure and regulating one’s metabolism. The sun can recharge you. It consists ultraviolet light which the body needs for optimum health. The sun stimulates the production of melanin and the metabolism of the body.