The Perfect Sunrise
A quick masterclass on shooting the perfect sunrise, but what do we know... we've only photographed 5000 dawns, and counting.
Skip to our top 10 tips...

Setting the scene...

For over 14 years The Day That have been photographing each and every stunning new day dawning.

We have a team of talented, and extremely hardy photographers who wake and get to work on mornings when most sane individuals would much rather fall back off to sleep. 

This is what makes us unique, and we’re proud to have a precious archive that stretches back to midsummers day 2005.

We’ve learnt a lot about sunrises along the way, so have collated some tips from the team to share with you. Here’s how to photograph a perfect sunrise…

The Day That Sunrise

What makes a sunrise 'perfect'?

Well that depends… each and every day brings something unique. The perfect sunrise to some may be warm golden hues of the sun’s rays against a shimmering backdrop of still seas. To others however, it could be stormy waves crashing against a rocky backdrop and moody skies. It could even be a City Centre skyline – it’s each to their very own, and is often down to personal preferences and circumstances. 

 

Dawn drama

We’ve all probably witnessed a glorious sunrise. It’s both captivating and breathtaking which can energise your day. There is a magic at this time of day, and often you are one of only a small amount of individuals witnessing this special moment. 

We are however at the mercy of the UK weather and sometimes this isn’t so kind to us as photographers. Even if you never see the sun, it’s still a wonderful time of day. 50mph winds and crashing waves… yes please!

Top ten tips for shooting the sunrise...

Even if the pictures turn out poor you won’t regret getting out of bed.

1. Check the weather and set your alarm! If you’re committing to seeing the sunrise, make sure you don’t miss it. Find out the local sunrise times and calculate any journey times. Factor in driving, walking, getting set up, making a flask of coffee… you may need to to rise a good hour or more before official sunrise. 

2. Get down to your preferred location early. Our photographers are in position at least 30mins before sunrise and the results can often be more incredible than later in the shoot. Beautiful pre-dawn colours, warming skies and the emerging light can all be reasons to be there early.

3. The ‘Golden Hour’ as it’s often referred can be filled with plenty of light and over-exposure. Don’t be put off by passing cloud cover which skews the perfect sun star. Extra features in the skies and foreground can often lead to a more startling light show, and often adds interest and wonder.

4. Use settings on your camera that you’re comfortable with. As professionals, we use a suitable SLR (from Fuji) and tripods with appropriate lenses having selected manual settings. For anyone wanting to capture the essence of the day, just make sure you’re ready and can make your technology work for you!

5. Use the rule of thirds – which in layman’s terms is about positioning and generic photographic principals. Make sure you think about the wider framing rather than just what the sun or colour is doing. 

6. Don’t rush and don’t rush back to bed! Some of the most beautiful skies can emerge shortly after sunrise, so keep yourself in position for at least 30mins after the time on the day. You never know. 

7. Take as many shots as you feel is right. You can always edit them down, and it’s best practice to edit as soon after the event as possible. Our team normally edit down from 100 images captured shortly after leaving their location. Keep shooting… you never know if your first or your last may be your best. Keep your eyes on the clouds… sudden bursts of colour can come and go in a matter of seconds. 

8. Enjoy your time and don’t get too caught up in the digital capture. It’s easy to miss the essence and beauty of an event being busy trying to photograph it all. In this day and age, it’s becoming all too common to be focused on our technology at an event when we should be witnessing it first hand. Consider also using time lapse or timed function so you are free to enjoy.

9. If the weather isn’t kind don’t give up and go back to bed, see what beauty you can capture, there’s always something. Use long exposures, or foreground objects to create interest. 

10. So you’ve captured dawn yourself – and now what? Check out our custom page – we welcome helping bring to life own prints and have the facility to print and personalise something of your very own. Just get in touch and we hope we can help…

Want to find out more...?

We’ll be publishing a new video series full of tips and tricks in due course. If you’re curious to know more then feel free to join us on a dawn patrol or simply get yourself down to one of our locations and witness what we do! Get in touch so we can tell you which beach we’ll be shooting from that morning. 

If you'd rather stay in bed...