candids by Jo » a lifestyle blog that centers on food, travel and leading a creative life.

Quick & dirty: Camera settings for capturing a sunrise

I’ll be the first to admit it’s a bit cheeky of me to write this post as I might have seen a total of 3 sunrises.  Most days I think it’s criminal to wake up before the sun does.  But what I lack in experience I make up for in experimentation. Today I’ll talk about the settings I used for sunrise photos so that you can have a starting point to experiment with when you find yourself staring at a rising sun.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of watching the sunrise over the sand dunes in the Sahara desert.  With my Sony Nex 5n in hand I made three pictures consecutively using different aperture settings (Mode: aperture priority, ISO at 800):

ISO 800 | f/16 | 1/2500 sec | 16mmpintopinterest

ISO 800 | f/16 | 1/2500 sec | 16mm

The first picture was taken at f/16, a narrow aperture that allows me to capture more of the landscape in detail hence the sunburst effect from the sun’s rays.

ISO 800 | f9 | 1/4000 | 16mmpintopinterest

ISO 800 | f9 | 1/4000 | 16mm

The second picture was captured at a wider aperture, f/9.  You can see there is quite a difference between the two pictures just based on the aperture setting alone.  Here the sun’s rays are not as well defined, rather it’s more of a melded glow.  I find this picture a little on the dreamy side, which depending on what you’re looking to achieve can be a positive.

ISO 800 | f/22 | 1/1250 sec | 16mmpintopinterest

ISO 800 | f/22 | 1/1250 sec | 16mm

Lastly, I stopped down to the lowest aperture setting available, f/22, for a more dramatic effect.  This picture is a too stark for my taste but it does catch ones attention.

There won’t be one perfect setting that will suit everybody’s preferences so the best thing to do is go out there and experiment.  I write this post in hope that it serves as a good starting point for those who just don’t know where to begin.

Note: No tripods were used for these shots but I would recommend one in low light settings to keep images tack sharp. 

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