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This chapter is from the book

Shooting at Dawn and Dusk

Shooting around sunrise or sunset means dealing with rapid changes in lighting, concerns about white balance, and high ISO and low shutter speeds. However, you can get some great photos if you're careful by using these guidelines:

  • White balance: Daylight (captures the redness in the sky at sunrise and sunset); Cloudy or Open Shade (before sunrise or after sunset; use when skin tones become blue)
  • ISO: 400–800 before and at sunrise; during and after sunset
  • Suggested modes: Shutter Priority (S, Tv) or Aperture Priority (A, Av)
  • Shutter speed: If hand-held, 1/30 second or faster (Shutter Priority); set automatically by camera (Aperture Priority)
  • Aperture: f/1.8 to f/5.6 (Aperture Priority); set automatically by camera (Shutter Priority)
  • Scene mode: Sunset while sky is red; Night scene after sunset or before sunrise
  • Zoom: As needed
  • Notes: Use image stabilization (IS), a tripod, or a steady surface to prevent camera shake. Use a short (2-second) self-timer if you are not shooting moving subjects.

Sunrise, Sunset

No matter how simple or how complex your digital camera is, it's easy to control how intense a sunrise or sunset is: It all depends on where you lock your focus and exposure (see Figure 7.21).

Figure 7.21

Figure 7.21 Locking exposure on the water, and then raising the camera to aim at the sunset, brings out building detail at the sacrifice of the sunset's intensity (left), while locking exposure on the sky silhouettes the buildings but captures the full majesty of the sunset (right).


To learn more about exposure lock, see the section "Using Exposure Lock" on page 116.

Buildings at Dusk

The combination of a fading sunset and brightly lit buildings can provide striking photographs (see Figure 7.22). Be sure to use a tripod or place the camera on a steady surface to avoid camera shake because exposures will often be in the 1/8-second or slower range.

Figure 7.22

Figure 7.22 Neon, streetlights, and sunset combine to create a magical view (1/8 second, ISO 400, f/3.6 on a point-and-shoot camera).

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