Sunrises or Sunsets?

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT NATURAL LIGHT

October Sunrise – Somewhere at Sea

Nowhere better but at Sea can the difference between photographing a Sunrise and a Sunset be realized. Especially in my case because a boat makes for a poor platform to rest a tripod…a necessity when using slower shutter speeds. Using a higher shutter speed, while recommended for a longer lens (or “zoom”) for cell phone cameras, often results in excessive “noise” in photos which in turn lowers the quality somewhat.

(Note: Electronic “Noise” is much more prevalent in the dark, or shadow areas of the photograph and is mitagated to an extent in colder weather or climes in digital cameras.) Visualizing this is normally not a concern when posting to Social Media or The Web because poor resolution is normally unseeable in small image file sizes and pixel counts. Keep this in mind if you ever plan to reproduce an image into any kind of Print Media.

Here (below) is another Sunrise, captured very close to the same time of day (my Metadata tells me the upper and lower photos are about 15 minutes apart, taking into consideration seasonal time change). In this image, my “platform” was the hood of my 4-Runner. I was able to steady the camera on the hood surface, allowing a much slower shutter speed which also resulted in much less noise in the dark areas. If you are looking at this on a cell phone, it will require you to “Zoom In” tightly on the dark areas to discern any difference. Even though the Sun was a few degrees higher than in the first image, the presence of a morning cloud cover kept the light in the Foreground low. This is further evidenced by the shadow from a street light, on Captain Harm’s Tartan 33, “Harm’s Way”, in the foreground. Using the hood as a tripod, I was able to come up with an acceptable photograph. The clouds doubled as a “diffuser” against harsh Sunlight and also added interest to the image.

Sunrise Over The Neuse River.
New Bern, NC

While the “Twilight Period” is much the same between the two times of day, (Dusk and Dawn) the time period you have of catching the “perfect light” is much shorter during Sunrise.

It was explained to me years ago by a well known Professional with 2 simple phrases.

“Think of the time you have…During Sunrise, the “Perfect Light” comes toward you very quickly, (like a speeding car on a collision course)

During Sunset, the light is moving away at a gradual, albeit steady pace…giving you much more time to choose your moment”

There is a couple of other factors to consider about differences in The Light.

The Morning Light, while not as colorful in most instances, is more on the “cooler” side (visually) of the Kelvin Scale and is a much softer light and a more subtle light. “White Balance” comes into play here as a camera setting and will be discussed in another post. This softer Light is favored mostly by Wildlife, a few Landscape and some “Urban” photographers because the animals are more active, Landscape features more pronounced and most city people are not yet out in force.

The Late Afternoon Light, gives us an abundance of what is popularily called “Golden Light” and is a major choice for Wedding, Portrait, Engagement and Event Photographers for a couple of reasons.

  1. It’s warming effect on skin tones and foliage.
  2. They have more time to shoot, with the Light slowly fading away.
  3. And Yes.. there is one more… Most People won’t get out of bed early enough to get prepared and then move fast enough to get photographed in a quickly arriving light.
Port Call at Sunset
New Bern, NC

For Me..I still like photographing Sunrises the best. Especially when I have that 0400-0800 Morning Watch and I am already in place (with my coffee) to witness and greet the birth of another day in Paradise.

3 thoughts on “Sunrises or Sunsets?

  1. It is those Early hours I remember best while at Assateague and Highlands, Tom.
    That time of day has always produced better quality rather than quantity in my opinion.

    Although, when at sea, I try to include a foreground to show perspective the
    one thing that I still struggle with is remembering what i learned with most every pro I ever studied with.
    That is, Instead of trying to “clutter” a frame with too much information, It is always best to determine what should NOT be included. Simplicity always wins because it leaves no doubt from a viewer’s perspective what the subject of the photograph really is.
    You do this better than anyone whose photos I have ever studied.

    Ditto on the first sentence in your comment.

    S’n

    Like

    1. You are too kind, Steven, but I’m not complaining! You are correct about mornings – it seems like the best sunrises are too few and far between, but when it’s good, it’s very very good! One of my favorite morning shots from Chincoteague is this one: http://tomdills.com/color/2010-06_color-1/ . And of course sometimes you get lucky with action as in the next one in the series: http://tomdills.com/color/2010-06_color-2/ taken just 26 minutes later! They were both taken in 2008 – the ‘2010’ in the file name refers to when I exported them from Lightroom.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love sunrises mostly because there are a lot fewer people in the morning than at sunset! Interestingly, the very best color often appears when it’s too dark to see it – possibly an hour or more before sunrise or after sunset. I’d say that your biggest advantage at sea is the lack of foreground clutter, and on a boat you always have something to make an interesting silhouette.

    Liked by 1 person

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