10 Tips for Photographing Sunrises and Sunsets

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No time of day is as spectacular than the ends of the day, when brilliant colors abound. At sunrise and sunset, the rays of the sun get bent by the atmosphere, creating scenes with all the colors of the spectrum. Planning, perceiving the changing colors, and composing well will allow you to produce stunning images at the ends of the day.

To help prepare you for these wonderful times, below are ten tips for shooting sunrises and sunsets like a pro:

1. Watch the weather.

There’s an old mariner saying, “Red in the morning, sailors take warning. Red at night, sailor’s delight.” This phrase works because it refers to the general movement of weather systems from west to east. If the sky is red in the morning, a front is moving in from the west toward the east. That is, the last rays of the sun’s spectrum, bent by the atmosphere as the sun rises, begin hitting the clouds on the edge of a weather system moving in. Clear sky is giving way to clouds, and the sun still in the clear sky, begins lighting up the advancing clouds. That’s good news for sunrise photographers but bad news for boaters.

For “Red at night, sailor’s delight,” skies become colored at night if a storm is clearing from the west toward the east, allowing the setting sun to illuminate the underside of the back edge clouds with the last rays of the spectrum. This creates beautiful colors with the sky clearing. This time it’s good news for both photographers and boaters.

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