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BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: All About Photography : Photographing Specific Subjects : Taking Sunset and Sunrise Photos

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Photography Question 
Vadim Boriskevich

member since: 8/26/2004

Sunset and Sunrise

Hi. I have a few questions.
1. To photograph a sunset/sunrise, I read that it is better to meter off of the left or right side of the sun. So, to get a better shot, I have to get the settings from the either side, then change it to Manual or Aperture mode and set both settings or the aperture and then compose my picture?
2. What is the best film to capture both views (sunrise is much brighter than sunset, I think )?
Thank you.

9/2/2004 8:58:34 AM

Brenda Tharp
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/9/2003
  Yes, metering from either side of where the sun is, and not including it in your exposure reading, is a good way to get a better exposure for sunrise/sunsets. You would have to either lock the exposure if you are in "auto" modes, or change it manually so it doesn't shift when you recompose your picture.
As to films, the print films will give you more latitude for extreme exposures like this, but slide films can also capture it.
Good luck!

9/2/2004 7:17:13 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/17/2003
  I concur with Brenda's recommendations, to record the sunrise/set as closely as possible to how it appeared to the naked eye. If there are white clouds present, meter off a blue area of the sky (without the sun in the frame). This will help to bring out more detail if you are including foreground elements. And full-manual, with a tripod, is the best way to do this.

9/3/2004 12:50:56 PM

Vadim Boriskevich

member since: 8/26/2004
  Thank you. What speed film should I use for better results?

9/4/2004 6:29:34 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/17/2003
  Any print or slide film designed for outdoor use will work. Slow films (100 ISO and lower) will show less grain.

9/4/2004 6:38:40 AM

Vadim Boriskevich

member since: 8/26/2004
I thought 100 is for a bright and sunny days ... Thanks, I'll try it and let you know. I just bought Jim's book for beginners and reading. Got to start wasting some film and practice.

9/4/2004 10:14:33 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/17/2003
  100 speed is great for landscapes, sunsets, etc., but it does require longer shutter speeds ... (which shouldn't matter, if you are using your tripod.) Good luck "practicing", and don't forget to bracket exposures.

9/4/2004 12:42:53 PM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  I meter as I usually would and then under expose,a stop or so for best results.

9/7/2004 12:28:32 PM


4/19/2005 3:27:22 PM

Rohan Cooke

member since: 6/24/2004
  What advice and set up would you use for a photo shoot of still products like beers etc.


6/14/2006 3:13:20 PM

Kevin Ekstrom
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/20/2005
Just meter to the left or right of the sun lock in an frame your shot. It's really simple.

Thats exactly wht I did with this image.

6/15/2006 3:22:53 AM

Brock E. Litton

member since: 5/6/2005
  this is just my 2 cents but if you have photoshop CS2 you can spotmeter the brightest part of the sky that you want detail in then spotmeter the darkest part of your scene that you want detail in then set your camera to manual, set the desired aperture, make sure your camera is on a tripod and take 5-9 pictures that include the meter reading from the bright part of the scene down to the meter reading of the dark part of the scene. Then you can open all of those images up in Photoshop CS2 by going to File, automate, merge to HDR. Then Photoshop merges all those images together to make one image with great dynamic range. I have an example on my website under the landscapes gallery called columbia river gorge sunrise. It was a composite of 9 images.Remember also if you shoot RAW you will have to convert to JPEG before HDR will work.Thats the only thing I have PHotoshop CS2 for is that awsome little tool


6/15/2006 7:09:04 AM

David A. Bliss

member since: 5/24/2005
  Photoshop does give you the ability to merge pictures, but I still shoot with a GND. It might be that I am still hanging on to my film days ;-) but I like taking the time to set the GND, meter, bracket, and not having to work that much in PS.

6/15/2006 11:24:11 AM

John Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/8/2001
  Place a polarizing filter on your lens and meyer dead on to the sun. You'll be amazrd at the result.

This is not to say that the advisories above are wrong. Rather - a new opportunity.

6/16/2006 3:48:57 PM


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