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Thread: Improving sunrise photography

  1. #1
    maloufn's Avatar
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    Improving sunrise photography

    I have spent a few days trying out sunrises and that beautiful peaceful time of the day. I thought may be we can share our experiences to improve this type of photography. I have inserted a photograph. I would appreciate any comments. Thank you.

    Nasseem

    Improving sunrise photography

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    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Improving sunrise photography

    Hi Nasseem, Your photo has a quiet, peaceful feeling about it. Good sky color refections off the sand. I would to see a little more detail in the shadows of the coastline on the left but there is enough detail to set the mood. Nice shot!

    I love to shoot sunrises and sunsets but I can predict a good sunset much easier than a good sunrise. Why? Have you heard the old sailor's rhyme?

    Red sky in morning, sailor take warning. Red sky at night, sailor's delight.

    When you have bad weather moving in, you will often get a red sky in morning. If the sun is slightly below the horizon, there are clear skies between the sun and clouds just above the horizon, you have a chance for a beautiful sunrise. However, if you live where the prevailing winds blow from the West, you could also be in for nasty weather as the day progresses - sailor take warning.

    On the other hand, when you have the sun just below the horizon and the sky is clear between the sun and clouds above the horizon, you have a chance for a beautiful sunset. If you live where the prevailing winds blow from the West, you would be in for clearing weather as the evening progresses - sailor's delight.

    Because I can watch the weather in the late afternoon much easier than I can before sunrise, (and <snore> I have difficulty getting up early) I find it easier to predict when I can capture a beautiful sunset. I also live in an area where I need to travel some distance to be able to get a shot of the horizon that isn't littered with a non-photographic skyline. In Sydney you may have much better chance of getting a sunrise over the ocean than if you were in Perth where the sunsets would be easier. Actually, with Sydney Harbor at your disposal, you may be able to get either with ease!

  3. #3
    maloufn's Avatar
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    Re: Improving sunrise photography

    Thank you Frank for your contructive comments. I am certainly not a mariner but appreciate your
    meteorological/oceanograhic observations. I will take heed to see if I can predict sunrise quality. Yes I am
    lucky to be living by the sea as far as sunrises are concerned but could also take advantage of sunsets on
    sydney harbour. Do you have any suggestions as to how to improve the quality of the shot. I am happy with
    my compositions but still not convinced re the quality of the shot. I need someone to comment on the quality
    of my shots to see how I can improve on them. May be I am limited with the gear I have: Canon 50D, Canon
    17-85 F4-5.6 (mostly used), Canon 50mm 1.4, Canon 70-200 Non IS.

    Comments would be appreciated. Thanks again. I noticed you have been doing very well in the comps
    lately. Keep it up.

    Nasseem

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    Re: Improving sunrise photography

    If you are going to limit yourself to a sunrise over open water try to get a silhouette of an object to emphasize its size comparable to the sun.

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    Re: Improving sunrise photography

    I'd suggest a number of things ...

    1. Make it panoramic - scenes with long horizontal lines streatch well.

    2. Kill the writing - it drags the eye to the edge of the frame rather than lets it flow through the image

    3. Be careful with your colours / levels / sharpening

    Improving sunrise photography

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    Re: Improving sunrise photography

    Quote Originally Posted by maloufn View Post
    I am happy with my compositions but still not convinced re the quality of the shot. I need someone to comment on the quality of my shots to see how I can improve on them.
    Thank you for your kind comments, Nasseem. I am not certain what area of quality you are concerned about. The image appears to be technically very well done - good tonal range, contrast, depth of field, focus... It is a high contrast image owing to the fact that you are shooting into the sun but you seem to have recovered detail in the shadows and highlights, which is difficult.

    I wouldn't be concerned about the gear quality given what you are using. For this kind of a scene, the ability to shoot RAW and recover the details in post processing are more important than a really expensive camera.

    When I shoot high contrast scenes, I usually tonemap the RAW image in Photomatix from multiple bracketed exposures to recover maximum detail in the shadows and highlights, then blend the tomemapped image back into the original RAW images to correct for issues the tonemapping process might introduce such as unrealistic skin tones, saturated foliage, and dark sky. Because this scene contains moving water, multiple bracketed exposures would blur the waves. Here is a shot taken by Trey Ratcliff of StuckinCustoms.com that is a single RAW image shot at the ocean into the setting sun. He used a "single image" tonemap process in Photomatix to achieve this result. Let me know if you want the link to where Trey has posted a number of sunrise/sunset photographs for shooting ideas.

    Improving sunrise photography

    Sunrises/sunsets address one of the typically boring aspects of landscape/seascape photography, namely, the often bland sky. The effect can run from subtle to spectacular, depending upon the reflections off the clouds. Getting a really spectacular sunset is very rare. The best approach I've found is to scout for a really good scene that can stand on it's own with a bland sky, then try to shoot that scene at sunrise/sunset. If the foreground and background of your image invokes an emotion in you when you shoot it, it will invoke the desired emotion in the viewer as well. Adding the sunrise/sunset lighting to scene can then really enhance the experience.

    What area of quality, and I am assuming you are referring to technical, not compositional, are you concerned about?

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Where does the sun appear?

    It helps to know exactly where the sun will rise if we want to place it in line with foreground subjects. O.K. we all know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west but, exactly where on the eastern or western horizon, depends on the time of year and your location.

    This site will provide a chart which will give the sunrise/sunset positions for just about any place on earth and also provides the local times for sunrise and sunset...

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/grad/solcalc/

    Of course it is without saying; in order to effectively use the above chart for photography, you would need a compass and know how to read the compass.

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    Re: Improving sunrise photography

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Thank you for your kind comments, Nasseem. I am not certain what area of quality you are concerned about. The image appears to be technically very well done - good tonal range, contrast, depth of field, focus... It is a high contrast image owing to the fact that you are shooting into the sun but you seem to have recovered detail in the shadows and highlights, which is difficult.

    I wouldn't be concerned about the gear quality given what you are using. For this kind of a scene, the ability to shoot RAW and recover the details in post processing are more important than a really expensive camera.

    When I shoot high contrast scenes, I usually tonemap the RAW image in Photomatix from multiple bracketed exposures to recover maximum detail in the shadows and highlights, then blend the tomemapped image back into the original RAW images to correct for issues the tonemapping process might introduce such as unrealistic skin tones, saturated foliage, and dark sky. Because this scene contains moving water, multiple bracketed exposures would blur the waves. Here is a shot taken by Trey Ratcliff of StuckinCustoms.com that is a single RAW image shot at the ocean into the setting sun. He used a "single image" tonemap process in Photomatix to achieve this result. Let me know if you want the link to where Trey has posted a number of sunrise/sunset photographs for shooting ideas.

    Improving sunrise photography

    Sunrises/sunsets address one of the typically boring aspects of landscape/seascape photography, namely, the often bland sky. The effect can run from subtle to spectacular, depending upon the reflections off the clouds. Getting a really spectacular sunset is very rare. The best approach I've found is to scout for a really good scene that can stand on it's own with a bland sky, then try to shoot that scene at sunrise/sunset. If the foreground and background of your image invokes an emotion in you when you shoot it, it will invoke the desired emotion in the viewer as well. Adding the sunrise/sunset lighting to scene can then really enhance the experience.

    What area of quality, and I am assuming you are referring to technical, not compositional, are you concerned about?
    It works.

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    Re: Where does the sun appear?

    Hi Nasseem,

    Just wondering what WB setting you use. You have two light sources here and the auto WB does not handle that well. You have direct light from the sun's glow and indirect light in the shadows. You have a double wammy effect here (technical term). The sunrise is warm and a lower colour temperature than midday clear sun ligh so the camera wants to add blue to counteract this warm glow and The water looks a little bluish because it is lit by indirect light reflected from the sky.

    The best white balance for mixed lighting is the Daylight setting, not auto, as this will show the true colours you see without trying to adjust them. I always shoot sinrise and sunset shots on Cloudy WB setting, which adds a little touch of added colour.

    If you shoot RAW you can change this in your RAW converter. If you shoot in jpeg and have CS4 and above you can open the jpeg in ACR via Bridge and still adjust the WB setting. Alternatively Rawtherapee.com has a RAW converter (freebie download) that will allow you to change the WB for jpegs as well.

  10. #10
    maloufn's Avatar
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    Re: Improving sunrise photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    If you are going to limit yourself to a sunrise over open water try to get a silhouette of an object to emphasize its size comparable to the sun.
    Thank you John. I have done that in the past and you are right it is quite effective.

    Nasseem

  11. #11
    maloufn's Avatar
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    Re: Improving sunrise photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I'd suggest a number of things ...

    1. Make it panoramic - scenes with long horizontal lines streatch well.

    2. Kill the writing - it drags the eye to the edge of the frame rather than lets it flow through the image

    3. Be careful with your colours / levels / sharpening

    Improving sunrise photography
    Thank you Colin,

    That does look great I must admit. How did you you transform that into a panorama? Is it a straight crop using a different ratio or do you use some other editing process?? Please excuse my ignorance. I do need to get rid of the writing as it does distract the viewer. Did you actually edit colour, sharpening and tones in the above image??? Thanks so much Colin.

    Nasseem
    Last edited by maloufn; 13th June 2011 at 02:08 AM.

  12. #12
    maloufn's Avatar
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    Re: Improving sunrise photography

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Thank you for your kind comments, Nasseem. I am not certain what area of quality you are concerned about. The image appears to be technically very well done - good tonal range, contrast, depth of field, focus... It is a high contrast image owing to the fact that you are shooting into the sun but you seem to have recovered detail in the shadows and highlights, which is difficult.

    I wouldn't be concerned about the gear quality given what you are using. For this kind of a scene, the ability to shoot RAW and recover the details in post processing are more important than a really expensive camera.

    When I shoot high contrast scenes, I usually tonemap the RAW image in Photomatix from multiple bracketed exposures to recover maximum detail in the shadows and highlights, then blend the tomemapped image back into the original RAW images to correct for issues the tonemapping process might introduce such as unrealistic skin tones, saturated foliage, and dark sky. Because this scene contains moving water, multiple bracketed exposures would blur the waves. Here is a shot taken by Trey Ratcliff of StuckinCustoms.com that is a single RAW image shot at the ocean into the setting sun. He used a "single image" tonemap process in Photomatix to achieve this result. Let me know if you want the link to where Trey has posted a number of sunrise/sunset photographs for shooting ideas.

    Improving sunrise photography

    Sunrises/sunsets address one of the typically boring aspects of landscape/seascape photography, namely, the often bland sky. The effect can run from subtle to spectacular, depending upon the reflections off the clouds. Getting a really spectacular sunset is very rare. The best approach I've found is to scout for a really good scene that can stand on it's own with a bland sky, then try to shoot that scene at sunrise/sunset. If the foreground and background of your image invokes an emotion in you when you shoot it, it will invoke the desired emotion in the viewer as well. Adding the sunrise/sunset lighting to scene can then really enhance the experience.

    What area of quality, and I am assuming you are referring to technical, not compositional, are you concerned about?
    Thanks Frank. You certainly summed it up so well. I appreciate your constructive comments. Its so reassuring that technically its not that bad and that another camera or better lens would not add so much to the shot. I have done a few shots in the past with Photomatix but with stationary subjects. I am reluctant to do so here because of the rolling waves. Could you send me the link to Treys sunrise/sunset shots. That shot of his is beautiful. Thank you so much. You are an assett to the site.

    Nasseem
    Last edited by maloufn; 12th June 2011 at 07:36 AM.

  13. #13
    maloufn's Avatar
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    Re: Where does the sun appear?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Hi Nasseem,

    Just wondering what WB setting you use. You have two light sources here and the auto WB does not handle that well. You have direct light from the sun's glow and indirect light in the shadows. You have a double wammy effect here (technical term). The sunrise is warm and a lower colour temperature than midday clear sun ligh so the camera wants to add blue to counteract this warm glow and The water looks a little bluish because it is lit by indirect light reflected from the sky.

    The best white balance for mixed lighting is the Daylight setting, not auto, as this will show the true colours you see without trying to adjust them. I always shoot sinrise and sunset shots on Cloudy WB setting, which adds a little touch of added colour.

    If you shoot RAW you can change this in your RAW converter. If you shoot in jpeg and have CS4 and above you can open the jpeg in ACR via Bridge and still adjust the WB setting. Alternatively Rawtherapee.com has a RAW converter (freebie download) that will allow you to change the WB for jpegs as well.
    Dear Peter,

    I hope you are well and getting those HbA1cs checked regularly. I am not absolutely sure but I use either AWB or daylight. In any case I invariably change the WB in Camera Raw to suit.

    Thanks

    Nasseem

  14. #14
    maloufn's Avatar
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    Re: Where does the sun appear?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    It helps to know exactly where the sun will rise if we want to place it in line with foreground subjects. O.K. we all know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west but, exactly where on the eastern or western horizon, depends on the time of year and your location.

    This site will provide a chart which will give the sunrise/sunset positions for just about any place on earth and also provides the local times for sunrise and sunset...

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/grad/solcalc/

    Of course it is without saying; in order to effectively use the above chart for photography, you would need a compass and know how to read the compass.
    Thanks Richard. I am aware of that but learnt the hard way by going to spots where the sun rose out of line of the foreground objects. I do now use a compass whan scouting. However, I did not know that the rise varied from season to season. Thank you for the tip and the site.

    Nasseem

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    Re: Where does the sun appear?

    Nasseem,

    I think that the framing and the aspect you've used distract from the image but I do like the composition. Your moon rise (off subject I know) shots are brilliant.

  16. #16
    maloufn's Avatar
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    Re: Where does the sun appear?

    Quote Originally Posted by whited3 View Post
    Nasseem,

    I think that the framing and the aspect you've used distract from the image but I do like the composition. Your moon rise (off subject I know) shots are brilliant.
    Mark Id like to know what you dont like about the framing. Id be interested how I could improve them Do you like the framing Colin has done with no inner glow and drop shadow? Is that only for this shot or generally?

    THanks

    Nasseem

  17. #17
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    Re: Where does the sun appear?

    Nasseem, with the stroke, inner and outer glow (or is it a drop shadow?) it just seems a bit busy. My eye is drawn away from the picture to the frame.

    I find what Colin has done with the drop shadow and stoke is more....ahh........................sutble I suppose.

    BTW please don't assume that I know what I'm talking about

  18. #18
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Improving sunrise photography

    Quote Originally Posted by maloufn View Post
    Thanks Frank. You certainly summed it up so well. I appreciate your constructive comments. Its so reassuring that technically its not that bad and that another camera or better lens would not add so much to the shot. I have done a few shots in the past with Photomatix but with stationary subjects. I am reluctant to do so here because of the rolling waves. Could you send me the link to Treys sunrise/sunset shots. That shot of his is beautiful. Thank you so much. You are an assett to the site.

    Nasseem
    Hi Nasseem, Here is the link to Trey's Smugmug shots. There are close to 1,000 shots there but they are his best work from around the world and many of these are sunrise/sunset shots. He uses Photomatix extensively and has free tutorials on his main site if you want to learn more.

    http://stuckincustoms.smugmug.com/Po...42619174_op5RY

  19. #19
    maloufn's Avatar
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    Re: Improving sunrise photography

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Hi Nasseem, Here is the link to Trey's Smugmug shots. There are close to 1,000 shots there but they are his best work from around the world and many of these are sunrise/sunset shots. He uses Photomatix extensively and has free tutorials on his main site if you want to learn more.

    http://stuckincustoms.smugmug.com/Po...42619174_op5RY
    Thanks Frank for putting me onto Trey. He's the master of HDR isnt he. He seems to know what he is tallking about! Great shots indeed.

    Nasseem

  20. #20
    maloufn's Avatar
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    Re: Where does the sun appear?

    Quote Originally Posted by whited3 View Post
    Nasseem, with the stroke, inner and outer glow (or is it a drop shadow?) it just seems a bit busy. My eye is drawn away from the picture to the frame.

    I find what Colin has done with the drop shadow and stoke is more....ahh........................sutble I suppose.

    BTW please don't assume that I know what I'm talking about
    Mark I take your point. I also AGREE WITH YOU TO A CERTAIN EXTENT. Its cleaner and less busy. However, imagine if we all had the same taste in women??? My God a lot would miss out.

    Nasseem

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