Tonight, we set the clocks forward an hour. I don’t know about you but I dread daylight savings. When we move the clocks forward, I know I’ll be making breakfast in the dark because I have two kids who tend to get up early no matter what. However, the time change can be a treat. I can capture dawn!

Last year, we explored the fun of photographing the sunrise but there’s more to the early hours than a sunrise.

Tips & Tricks for Dawn Photography

Capturing Dawn
Week 11: 3/9 – 3/15

Put it in Manual Mode

Dawn can be a difficult time to get your metering right.  Using Manual mode really helps. There’s no definite settings that you should set your camera to to get the perfect image. Your aperture and ISO will depend on your shot. You should adjust your ISO and aperture for the available light. However, if you are taking a landscape photograph, you may want to set a large depth of field by using a smaller aperture. By using a smaller aperture, you will have an image that has a larger are in focus.  When using a smaller aperture, you will have to use a slower shutter speed.

Tips & Tricks for Dawn Photography

If you are not comfortable with Manual mode yet, set your camera to Aperture Priority {Av Mode}. You set your aperture and let the camera figure out the shutter speed and ISO.

Long Exposure Times

If you are shooting really early, before the sun rises, you will be faced with some complex lighting situations. The low lighting conditions may require longer exposure times. A tripod would come in handy along with a remote shutter to reduce camera shake.

Get Up Close  

Use your surroundings to tell the story of early morning. After all, photography is all about telling stories! Dew can add interest to your story and tell your viewers the exact time of day you shot your image. If you are photographing dew drops, pay attention to the reflections in the droplets. It will show off what is around you! If you don’t have any dew hanging around like me, frost is another great element to photograph in the early morning. You won’t have any reflections in the frost but it will show your audience just how cold it was!

Tips & Tricks for Dawn Photography

Watch Your White Balance

Early morning light tends to have a reddish-orange hue. This will make your photographs appear “warm.” If you are photographing a person in this lighting, the color may cast onto their face and make them to appear orange. You can help this by setting your white balance to incandescent. This will help add a little blue to the image. You can also set your own custom white balance.

Try a Silhouette

Dawn and dusk are the perfect times to capture silhouettes. Meter off the sun for your silhouette photo. This will make your foreground underexposed resulting in a silhouette. Get creative! Pick an interesting subject that has a sharp outline. These make the best silhouettes!

Tips & Tricks for Dawn Photography - 2

Get Creative

There is more to dawn than just sunrises and silhouettes. You don’t even need to be outside {it’s too cold here!}. Capture what is happening around during those early hours: your morning cup of coffee on the kitchen counter with the low light coming in the window, your kids hopping onto the bus for school, or the sun peeking through your curtains telling you its time to wake up.

Your challenge this week is to get up extra early and capture the beauty you see during dawn. Make sure you share your early morning pictures on Facebook.


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