It’s the wet season in Tropical North Queensland and with that come the clouds. Clouds are a photographer’s delight for sunrise and sunset images!
Here’s ten photography tips for recording an iconic sunrise or sunset image worthy of placing on your wall at home.
- Know your location. Never go to a new location in the dark. Safety is first.
- Know the sunrise and sunset times on the day you are going to visit. The best sunrise and sunrise images are pre-dawn and during the last light when the sun has just set – this is when those magic images happen. For first and last light we usually add on 30 minutes before dawn and 30 minutes after sunset.
- Watch the weather. There are a variety of weather conditions that provide ideal sunset and sunrise images. Usually if it’s over 70% chance of rain it means an overcast and uninviting vista to photograph so you are most probably better off staying in bed.
- Composition is paramount. Start by using the Rule of Thirds for placement of elements such as your horizon. Place your horizon on either the lower third if the sky is dominant or the upper third if the land is more dominate. Only place your horizon in the middle when you have a perfect reflection.
- Try using a line, a very strong compositional tool, to draw your viewer into your image. Make sure elements are separated from each other.
3. Don’t let camera shake ruin your image
Keep you shutter speed above what you can hand-hold at. At sunrise and sunset this can be tricky. You may have to raise your ISO and risk digital noise.
Top Tip: If you are on a boat, forget taking the tripod unless you are going to be on land for a sunrise or sunset.
4. Look for a silhouette
Silhouettes can be stunning and are considered the most extreme form of backlighting in photography and they are simple to achieve. Look for strong, bold shapes that are easily recognisable. Keep your image minimal and simple.
5. Look for the little things
- When there is no great clouds that awesome vistas – what do you do? Look for the little details – ‘zoom’ in – and make a mini landscape. You will start to see other things like minute fungi, patterns in shells and bark.
- At sunrise and sunset the light is soft and your subject will be side lit. Side lighting is the best lighting to empathize texture.
6. Look over your shoulder
- As the sun sets, the moon may be rising swathed in gorgeous pinks and blues. Or the horizon could be bathed in layered pastels or a fiery orange glow.
- If there is a storm don’t forget to look around for the rainbow!
7. Play with White Balance (WB)
In nearly all cameras, including point and shoots, there’s a tool called White Balance (WB). It’s fun to use and helps us get images straight of camera (SOOC) closer to what our human eye sees. Saving time is a must when exploring Tropical North Queensland as there’s so much to discover.
8. Use a tripod and remote control or cable release
We also use a cable release, sometimes a polariser and/or neutral density (ND) filter and always a tripod or some other stable support like a post.
9. Find your position
Move up and down for the best view, shoot both vertical and horizontal and keep your horizon straight.
10. Have fun
Exploring our back yard at sunrise and sunset can only be described as simply magnificent. During the wet season clouds build and tropical storms form creating stunning scenes. In the dry season (we only have two seasons) the clouds also often gather as day breaks and sets. No wonder they call this one of the best locations to visit in the world!