Turbine in the Mist
15th September 2016
Not Such A Bad View
11th October 2016

Worth Getting Up Early (A sunrise tutorial)

A check of the weather, the tides and sunrise time and direction made getting up early worthwhile this morning. I love watching the sunrise and I love photography, so what better thing to do than get up early and get some shots. I prefer sunrise to sunsets as the air is cleaner and there are fewer people about.

To get these shots I had to do a bit of scrambling over wet rocks, in the dark and carrying my tripod and camera bag. I made sure someone knew where I was going and I carried a phone.

I was a bit unsure about the cloud on the horizon as there is often a bank out at sea which hides the sunrise completely. When I got to the beach it looked like I was in luck.

A crescent moon was high in the sky and it was not easy getting it into one shot, so I created a vertical panorama, stitching two landscape images, one above the other.

Coquet Sunrise

Just before the sun rose above the horizon it painted the clouds with reds and oranges. Over the island the roosting gulls all took to the air.

Gulls rise

The light changes rapidly and constant attention needed paying to the exposure. I needed to reduce the exposure by two stops in less than a minute apart, which means the brightness of the scene doubled twice in a minute, and I could have reduced the exposure of the following shot even more. I adjusted the shutter speed, leaving the aperture at around f/11, giving me a good depth of field that I didn’t want to lose for these images.

sunriseThe reds faded so quickly it was like a switch being pulled. Then the golden light of dawn started breaking  through.
Golden HourThe sun started to appear above the horizon. Not only was the luminosity changing rapidly, but the colour of the light too.

Bright sunlight, like snow and water, can trick the camera’s sensor into under-exposing and so I over-exposed these shots by 0.7EV.Golden dawn

Shooting into the sun needs care. Looking at the sun through a lens can damage the eye, so I used live view for these shots. I also find Live View with the fully articulated screen easier when I am using a tripod.

My camera has a slip-down cover for the eye-piece. I use this to stop light leaking in through the eye piece when the shutter is open. I also have plate that replaced the eye cup that does the same job. If you don’t have either of these your camera then a piece of gaffer tape can do the trick. Leaked light can look like sensor dust.


Once the sun was up it was time to go and have breakfast…

but I just couldn’t resist shooting one last panorama from the cliff-top.

sunrise panorama


  1. hmca14 says:

    These are terrific, Ivor! Had to laugh when you described walking over the rocks…..could just picture you. Hard to pick a favorite here…..you certainly have a great shoreline!

    • Ivor says:

      Thank-you Helen. What seems like not long ago, but must have been 17 or 18 years back, I used to don a wetsuit, a buoyancy aid and a hard hat and scramble up a fast-flowing river gorge for the fun of it. I’m a bit more cautious now, especially when carrying my camera gear!

  2. Julie McLeod says:

    Wow, that’s fascinating how the light changed over that time period. Have to say, my favorite of all these is the first.

    • Ivor says:

      Thanks, I liked that too but wish the moon had been just a tiny bit lower in the sky! About double the distance from the top of the frame it would have been perfect. Most inconsiderate of her, I thought. 🙂

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