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Photography QnA: Taking Sunset and Sunrise Photos

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Category: All About Photography : Photographing Specific Subjects : Taking Sunset and Sunrise Photos

Wondering how best to take pictures of sunsets and clouds? How about how to get great sunrise photos? Check out this Q&A for answers.

Page 2 : 11 -12 of 12 questions

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Photography Question 
Prasobh P. Rajan

member since: 4/25/2004
  11 .  Sunset Drama: Bird in Flight
 
How do you photograph a flying bird against a sunset?

4/25/2004 2:50:51 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Meter for the sky in the background (a portion of the sky not exposed to the direct rays of the sun). This will render your sunset close to how it appeared to the naked eye, and will show the bird in silhouette. Shutter speeds will vary depending on the species. Soaring birds - like herons, eagles, or vultures - can be frozen at 1/60 or 1/125 sec, while a much faster speed of 1/500 sec. is required to attain feather detail in beating wings. Take a lot of frames to get the best shot possible. Also, wings look better on the up beat, than down.

4/25/2004 7:06:48 AM

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Photography Question 
Tom W. Hauber

member since: 8/17/2001
  12 .  Trees in Foreground are Black
 
  Tiger head
Tiger head
sunset
© Tom W. Hauber
 
I shot this photo in Missouri at a family reunion. There where several of us taking shots of the great sunset, and I stuck around after everyone else packed up and left. That's when I got this shot. My question concerns the composition of this shot - should I have not included the trees in the foreground? Do they take away from the shot, or do they add to it?

8/25/2001 9:24:19 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Tom,
Aren't you glad you stayed around for this one?

Sunsets and sunrises will almost always silhouette the horizon if the sky is properly exposed. This is normal and expected in these types of images. Exceptions can include urban skyscrapers which may be illuminated some by the "afterglow" in the sky (also quite normal).

Including the horizon in a sunrise or sunset anchors the image and gives the viewer a point of reference or orientation (where am I looking). Omitting the horizon should have some very compelling reason to do so (possibly an abstract, but the sky requires something very, very unique about it to stand alone and work). In addition, placing it very low as you have is quite common. The subject is the sky and you only need enough of the horizon to anchor the image across the entire bottom.

BTW, you did an excellent job of getting a level horizon (a common error).

-- John

8/26/2001 1:15:30 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Oops . . . let me clarify the last sentence:
You want a level horizon (which you did well). The common error is not having it perfectly level. Even very slightly tilted is easily noticed in a print, but is harder to detect in the viewfinder.

-- John

8/26/2001 1:21:59 AM

Tom W. Hauber

member since: 8/17/2001
  Hi John,
Thanks for the input, I am slowly learning to be more aware of the surroundings and I must admit, I spent a great deal of time getting the horizon to look level while framing this shot. My tripod is now my favorite piece of equipment!
Tom

8/26/2001 10:12:56 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Tom,
Yes!
It is called "seeing" or what Ansel Adams termed "visualizing." Developing the skill of being able to envision what the photograph will look like in your mind is one of the first steps toward embracing the concept of "making" photographs.

If you do not have a leveling bubble on your tripod head you can get one that slides into the camera hot shoe at a major camera store. Look for one that can be used to level the camera whether it's turned horizontal or vertical, and put it into the hot shoe carefully so that it's aligned well. Makes it much easier, although it's still very wise to check the viewfinder. Take care with thinking about composition and setting up your shots, and you'll eventually begin to automatically scan things such as viewfinder edges for alignment with vertical and horizonatal lines.

-- John

8/30/2001 12:41:00 AM

Debbie Groff

member since: 5/25/2001
  I love my tripod as well, there is just one thing, and it may be my imagination, but when setting up my tripod I always look to be sure the bubble is aligned. I have found that not all landscapes or subjects are level to the ground I have my tripod set on. Is this amazing or am I just seeing things?

8/31/2001 2:29:34 PM

Tom W. Hauber

member since: 8/17/2001
  Hi Debbie,
Actually, the trees at the bottom of the photo where running in a diagonal line away from my position, so the camera was not level with the ground (or tree line). That's just a forced perspective. I have found the bubble on my tripod to be pretty much useless, and rarely even glance at it. I will usually frame the shot, then take many shots of the subject, and make a few minor adjustments along the way. I carry a stenographers notebook with me and make notes on just about every shot I take. It drives people crazy, they think I'm nuts, but I have some great photos for my effort, and a stack of notebooks I have used for reference many times.

8/31/2001 3:50:56 PM

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