Top 5 Tips for Dawn Photography

March 16, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Top 5 Tips for Dawn Photography

There’s no doubt that the ends of the day, either around sunrise, or sunset, are when some of the best landscape images are made.

It’s not called the golden hour (or magic hour) for nothing.

Personally I tend to prefer the early shoot. Getting out at sunrise, watching a new day start and, with any luck, getting some images of it all, is a magical experience, no matter how often I do it.

However, getting the best from an early morning landscape photo shoot is not just as simple as turning up and taking a picture. 

So… Here are my Top 5 Tips for Dawn Photography

1. Scout the location in advance. 

Turning up early in the morning, when it’s dark, and then rushing around trying to find a decent composition, is a pretty good way to miss the best light and go home with disappointing images. 

Unlike a sunset shoot when you can go out a bit earlier, spend some time exploring, and then set up and shoot, dawn photography almost always works best when you’ve been to the location before. 

A prior trip to check out what’s there, decide on possible compositions and work out exactly where the light is going to be coming from is always helpful. Plus you can also check if there are any obstacles or hazards to overcome.

2. Get there early.

Don’t just turn up 5 minutes before sunrise. Sometimes the best of the light is going to be in the blue hour, or as the blue hour transitions to the golden hour. That’s why I always aim to get on location at least 30 minutes in advance.

3. Use a tripod.

Dawn shoots often require shooting in low light conditions and using a tripod means you don’t have to compromise on quality by boosting the ISO. A tripod means you can shoot longer exposures and these can often have great mood, especially in the blue hour.

4. Pre set and check your camera.

Make sure that your basic camera set up is right before heading out. Check that your ISO is how you want it to be, that you have the right lens on. That you have Vibration Reduction / Image Stabilisation turned off (you should always do this when shooting on a tripod). That you have enough battery charge and enough space on your memory cards. 

It’s a lot easier to check all of this out before you leave home, I recommend the night before, than it is in the dark while you’re waiting for those perfect light conditions.

5. Take more than one shot. 

I don’t mean rush around trying to get in as many compositions as possible, in fact I recommend starting out with just a single composition. What I do mean is take several shots as the light changes. Starting out while it’s still dark and maybe finishing up some time after actual sunrise. 

Sometimes I will do this and delete all but one of the images but sometimes I’ll find that I get more than one image from the shoot because the light and conditions make for images that have a totally different feel and mood, even if the composition is the same, or almost the same.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips, I’ll be back at the start of the month with my review of March, until then, stay safe and enjoy taking pictures



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