Posts Tagged ‘Sun’

7 Tips for Perfect Sunrise and Sunset Photos

July 30, 2009

“Early Madness”
© Copyright Camil Seisanu

Everyone loves beautiful sunrise and sunset photos. And sure, it’s easy to go outside when the sun is coming up or going down, snap the shutter, and appreciate the photos. But if your photos don’t always look as good as you think they should, heed these 7 tips from Yanik’s Photo School. Then you too can shoot beautiful sunrise and sunset photos like Camil Seisanu’s “Early Madness” shown above.

I have listed the tips below in a prioritized order.

1. Scouting. It’s very important to plan ahead and look for the perfect places to capture the rising and setting sun. Consider the path the sun will take during the day and verify that you can shoot around any obstacles, such as buildings and trees. Keep in mind that the sun’s path varies throughout the year. For example, during the winter, the sun stays lower on the horizon. Check your local weather forecast for the daily times of sunrises and sunsets; Yahoo! Weather is a good resource for that.

2. Composition. Composition is key for great photos, especially sunrise and sunset photos. For these photos, we have a tendency to shoot in (horizontal) landscape format, but it’s also a good idea to get creative and try shooting in (vertical) portrait format, as Camil has done with his photo above. Also try using the Rule of Thirds, instead of centering the sun in the middle of your photos. Learn more about composition in the Photobird Daily article “Composition Is Key“.

3. Arrive early and stay late. Don’t pack up and leave right when the sun goes down. The color show is just about to begin! Some of the best colors will appear before the sun rises and after it sets. Stick around for a while and keep shooting because the colors will change, even slightly, every minute. Bring your tripod along as it will help you use longer shutter speeds to capture more light when the sky is darker.

4. Look behind you. Yes, while you think all the action might be where the sun is headed, when you turn around, you’ll see the radiant colors that the sun is painting on the landscape. You may see a building in a vibrant orange color or the sun coloring the clouds above. The best, most colorful light is usually when the sun is low on the horizon, or even just below the horizon.

5. Exposure. Try underexposing your shots between 1 and 2 stops to get rich, vibrant colors. Or you can try overexposing your shots which will result in pastel, less saturated colors. To do this easily, use the EV (Exposure Value) button if you have one on your camera. It’s something you need to experiment with to get the effect you are looking for.

6. Setting your white balance. You should also experiment with different white balance settings to get the look you desire. Keep in mind that as the sun moves through the sky, you may find it necessary to change your white balance setting to adjust for the color tones in the sky and landscape around you. If you have a camera with presets, you should try the “Sunset” preset. One of the first things I do when I pick up a camera is change the white balance setting to “Cloudy”, which saturates the colors in the scene and makes them more vibrant. If you shoot in RAW format, you can change the white balance setting later in software on your computer. As with most things in photography, you’ll need to experiment with the white balance setting to get your desired look.

7. Don’t look straight at the sun! No one looks directly at the sun even with sunglasses on, and we shouldn’t look directly at the sun with cameras either. You could damage your eyesight, and your camera can be damaged by direct sunlight through the lens if exposed for too long. Basically, if it would hurt your eyes by looking at it, then don’t photograph it. Most people can look at sunrises and sunsets because the sun is low on the horizon, or below the horizon, and the earth’s atmosphere diffuses the sunlight so it’s not as powerful as if it was at full strength at mid-day.

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A Partial Eclipse Over Manila Bay

June 25, 2009

“A Partial Eclipse Over Manila Bay”
© Copyright Fermin Naelga, Jr. and Dr. Armando Lee

One of the reasons I really like the Astronomy Picture of the Day is that I get to see stunning photos of extraordinary celestial events such as the photo shown above entitled “A Partial Eclipse Over Manila Bay” by Fermin Naelga, Jr. and Dr. Armando Lee. Click the photo above to see a larger version.

Viewing partial eclipses through photographs seems like one of the best ways to view these experiences because observing partial solar eclipses with naked eyes can result in permanent eye damage and you won’t even know your eyes are damaged until several hours later. More information on viewing solar eclipses safely is here and details on why precautions are needed is here. You can find details on how to photograph solar eclipses at MrEclipse.com.

I’ve written before about the Astronomy Picture of the Day and if you like this photo, I think you’ll also like the others listed below. Be sure to click the photos to see larger versions.

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A Sun Pillar Over North Carolina

January 29, 2009

“A Sun Pillar Over North Carolina”
© Copyright Terry Holdsclaw

I’m a big fan of the Astronomy Picture of the Day, and I also like sunrises and sunsets. When I saw Terry Holdsclaw’s photo from the Astronomy Picture of the Day entitled “A Sun Pillar Over North Carolina” shown above, I was awestruck. The colors in the photo are phenomenal. It’s a very vibrant photo, like a jolt of caffeine to wake you up in the morning. Click the photo above to see a larger version.

I like the composition of the photo too, with the branch in the upper-right corner to give the scene a sense of depth. That’s a subtle framing effect. Read more about framing in the Photobird Daily article “Composition Is Key“.

According to the Astronomy Picture of the Day, a sun pillar, which is shown vertically in the middle of the photo in the sky and reflected in the water, is caused by sunlight reflecting off ice crystals when the air is cold and the Sun is rising or setting. For more details, see the Astronomy Picture of the Day for December 15, 2008.

I’ve written before about the Astronomy Picture of the Day and if you like this photo, I think you’ll like the others too. Be sure to click the photos to see larger versions.

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7 Tips for Perfect Sunrise and Sunset Photos

January 12, 2009

“Early Madness”
© Copyright Camil Seisanu

Everyone loves beautiful sunrise and sunset photos. And sure, it’s easy to go outside when the sun is coming up or going down, snap the shutter, and appreciate the photos. But if your photos don’t always look as good as you think they should, heed these 7 tips from Yanik’s Photo School. Then you too can shoot beautiful sunrise and sunset photos like Camil Seisanu’s “Early Madness” shown above.

I have listed the tips below in a prioritized order.

(more…)

From Moonrise to Sunset

November 26, 2008

“From Moonrise to Sunset”
© Copyright Miguel Claro

One of my favorite websites is the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Most of their photos are “out of this world”, but they occasionally show some “down to earth” photos for people who aren’t interested in “seeing stars”. I’ve written about the website before in the Photobird Daily, in “Planets Ahoy!” and an article entitled “Astronomy Picture of the Day“.

The photo shown above entitled “From Moonrise to Sunset” by Miguel Claro is very unique in a couple of ways. First, the panoramic photo shows the Full Moon rising in the eastern horizon at the far left while the Sun sets in the same photo at the far right. It’s pretty cool. 17 digital photos are stitched together to follow the horizon in Lisbon, Portugal, taken on November 13, 2008.

The photo shown above is only a very small part of the entire photo. You actually need to click this link to go to the Astronomy Picture of the Day for November 22, 2008 to see the entire panoramic photo. When you get to the website, be sure to read the caption and use the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of your web browser to scroll to the right to see the entire photo.

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1 Week Left: Photo Contest for November

November 21, 2008

“Before the End of a Day”
© Copyright Chanchal Ghosh

There’s nothing like a good sunset photo, and the photo shown above entitled “Before the End of a Day” by Chanchal Ghosh captures the sun perfectly. As the sun goes down, it changes from a bright white to a radiant yellow color, makes the sky orange, and creates a silhouette of the palm tree.

As the sun goes down, the beautiful sunset it creates marks the end of the day. And even though the sun is going down, we know it will be back up tomorrow. It never stays down, but it will rise again tomorrow, and then, of course, take another trip down. It doesn’t stay down for long.

The theme for the Photobird Photo Contest for November is “Down”. There’s just over 1 week left to enter the contest and to vote for your favorite entries.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for November will each receive the following cool prizes:

Read more details about the monthly contest here.

Every monthly Photobird Photo Contest has two winners. At the end of each month, we pick one winner for the Photobird Award, and we will tally your votes to determine the one winner for the People’s Choice Award.

See the previous contests and their contest entries at this link.

Go here to enter the contest. And be sure to have your family and friends vote for their favorite entries to help select the People’s Choice Award. (You can send them a quick little reminder here.)

If you have any questions, please ask in the comments below or in the Photobird forums.

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Photobird Photo Contest for August: “Relax”

August 1, 2008

“relaxing in the hot summer sun”
© Copyright John Maher

In April, Spring was just beginning. (“Spring” was the theme for the Photobird Photo Contest for April.)

In May, the flowers bloomed. (“Flowers” was the theme for May.)

In June, our friends arrived. (“Friends” was the theme for June.)

In July, it was time to play. (“Play” was the theme for July.)

In August, let’s relax. Just like John Maher’s son, shown in the photo above. John won the Photobird Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for July 2007 with his photo entitled “relaxing in the hot summer sun“.

“Relax” is the theme of the Photobird Photo Contest for August. As always, the contest is free to enter and there are two winners for each contest.

Each month we choose one Photobird Award winner for the best overall entry, and your votes are tallied to select the winner of the People’s Choice Award.

Our two winners will each receive the following fabulous prizes:

Photobird account with 500MB storage space
• 1GB SanDisk Ultra II memory card
Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

Be sure to read more details here about the monthly contest, including the rules.

Go here to enter the contest. And be sure to have your friends vote for their favorite entries to help select the People’s Choice Award. (You can send your friends a quick little reminder here.)

If you have any questions, please ask in the Photobird forums.

Position the Sun Exactly Where You Want It

July 15, 2008

Photo © Copyright Matt Soave

We’ve written a lot about composition. It’s the single most important element of taking great photos. Everything else comes secondary, in my opinion. Here’s an article in the Photobird Daily in which we’ve written about an excellent primer on composition. Here’s another one. Here’s all of our articles in the Photobird Daily that mention composition.

Now then, for you intellectually creative types who enjoy puzzles on a planetary scale, once you understand the basics of composition, you may be interested in trying your skills at calculating when celestial objects will appear in specific, compositionally-appropriate locations on Earth, just like Matt Soave explained in this article.

When Matt first envisioned taking this photo, he thought that it would be pretty easy to shoot. Just wait until the sun sets and then take the photo. Unfortunately, he found out it’s not that easy because the sun sets in that exact, specific location only twice a year.

Matt further explains that he initially thought his ideal photo was still going to be impossible because he found out that the pier doesn’t actually point directly west, where he assumed the sun always sets, but instead points more northwest.

Not to be defeated, Matt continued to conduct research to determine if his ideal photo was indeed possible. He used Google Maps to get an aerial photo of the pier, Adobe Photoshop to determine the angle of the pier (shown below), Stellarium which is planetarium software, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Solar Position Calculator website.

Screenshot © Copyright Matt Soave

Using all of these resources, including his own determination, creativity, and astronomy knowledge, he was indeed able to shoot his ideal photo, shown at the top. It’s really a quite impressive feat.

Be sure to read the entire article at the Digital Photography School website.

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