There’s something about sunrises and sunsets that attracts the photographer. I frequently holiday on the Spanish east coast and have the opportunity to take photos of the sunrise whenever I manage to wake up early enough.
Taking a good sunrise-over-the-sea photograph is hard though. In particular, exposure can be difficult as the sun is bright and the shadows deep at sunrise. I personally tend to prefer to lose details in the shadow so that the sun looks better.
We also need to consider composition. Making a compelling picture of the the sun on the horizon on its own can be quite hard. It makes for a better photograph if you can find a secondary subject to complement the sun. These are my favourite types of photos as you can see by my selections in this article.
Adding people to your shot adds humanity. In the top photo, I found a group of people where one of them was taking a photo of the sunrise. This makes the sun a key feature of the scene as it’s the focus of the group we’re looking at, so our eye is drawn to it.
The sunrise isn’t important to everyone as this photo shows. This person is much more interested in fishing than the sun rising. It results in a lovely silhouette as we look past him to the sun.
When we don’t have a secondary subject, then we need to something else to be be compelling. A sun on the sea alone can look lost, however for this shot, I noticed that the was reflected in the sea in such a way that it looked like a ray was reaching out to us. This was a perfect situation for a portrait photo where the sun is our only focus with the sun’s ray leading the viewer’s eyes to it.
Incidentally, this photo also shows another problem with trying to take a good sunrise photo: we can’t control nature. In this case, there were clouds on the horizon as the sun rose and it was much higher in the sky than I would have preferred.
Sunrise is challenging and I expect that I’ll be taking many more pictures of it as I try to get the the perfect one.