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Some people don’t believe in magic. But that’s until they see their first breathtaking sunrise light show. Photographers believe in magic and sunrise landscape is a way to deliver it, to share it with others. Because when you share something great, it multiplies. Read further for my top 15 tips for the sunrise photography in no particular order.


The difference to the sunset is not apparent on the first sight, but it does exist. There are multiple differences in several areas. First of all, it’s harder to be there in time for the sunrise. People tend to sleep at night, you know. But it’s a good thing for us, photographers! There will be nearly no people around, less noise, less distracting talks; no one walks into your frame. More often than not, you’ll have the whole area at your disposal. Whereas, during the sunset, it’s harder to build a frame without anyone in there.

The other important thing here is the emotional part. The sunset transitions from light to dark, it has a soothing effect, calms us down and prepares us for the night rest. The sunrise is opposite, it transitions from darkness to light, from sleep to life. It’s like a birth of life, like a burst of energy. It feels like a new opportunity, like a new adventure. I love sunrise for this effect.

The final difference is the color. Sunsets tend to be redder due to the busy day stirring particles in the air, which reflect more of the red color in the atmosphere. The sunrises tend to have more clarity in the air. With all that, I prefer sunrise photography for the tranquility it offers.


Sunrise photography starts one hour before the sunrise and finishes about one hour after it, i.e. when the Golden Hour ends. Of course, seasons and sometimes locations adjust these values. In general, it is photography around dawn. During the summer, the time gap narrows, during the winter stretches and you have more time at your disposal to create a fantastic sunrise landscape. Or sunset landscape, if you want.


The list of tips and tricks can be unlimited. So I’ve picked those, which are easy to follow and give you an overall picture of what’s happening when you are out for the dawn photography. Some of the tips are technical and every sunrise photo caption contains EXIF data, so read further to understand what settings to use for sunrise photography.


Typically, you need to be there at least 60 minutes before the daybreak for the sunrise photography. I hear the scream “Why so early?!”. There are several reasons for that! First of all, the first faint light in the sky appears about 40 minutes before the Sun rolls over the horizon. But depending on the terrain, you may be able to see it earlier. A few months back I saw a red color in the clouds 60 minutes before the dawn. Of course, it is very dark to see anything, but your camera has an advantage of producing long exposure shots in any light. Use this time to create such surreal sunrise landscape pictures capturing the clouds movement.

If shooting seascapes, you can also try many different things for the body of water. I have written a Seascape Photography Tutorial, which has some ideas on the long exposure too along with all other useful info. Check it out!

For the sunrise photography settings, please use the above link too. It describes 6 types of light and timeline with all right settings for any type of photography.

The other factor, which affects an early start is that you need to wander around, to feel the nature and to find some best spots. Even if you have scouted the area in the daylight, some things could have changed. For instance, the rain could have left some puddles behind or a fog shaped the terrain. The light itself shapes the terrain and affects your future sunrise photos.

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