I got up in the dark so I could take my camera to the beach for sunrise. I'd woken several times during the night to argue with myself on the subject, and turned my alarm off twice. But when I woke finally at 5.30am, I decided it wasn't too cold after all and I should just do it. I'm glad I did, as I learned a great deal. (Please keep in mind I am still just an amateur at photography. These "lessons" are tongue in cheek and not meant to actually teach anyone.)
1. Don't trust the meterological service.
I knew this already regarding weather forecasts, but now I know it about their daylight calculations also. If they say sunrise is at 7.30am, they're talking to ordinary people. Those with cameras will benefit from understanding that dawn itself happens at least half an hour before sunrise. By the time the sun actually breaks over the horizon, most of the glory is gone. I left home in a rush when I saw it the sky was lightening, and ran all the way so I could catch the best light.
2. Take an umbrella.
Again, don't trust met service. It really can't be said often enough. (Also, an umbrella can be a handy tool if you want to drape a shawl over something and swoop it around looking like an absolute idiot in the service of photography.) At least rain showers add diversity to your pictures. And I think a cloudy day is always more interesting to photograph than one with clear, bland skies.
3. Change your perspective.
I am short, therefore am always reaching my camera as high as it will go to create more depth of contrast in my images. I also climb onto benches and lie on the sand. Yes, elderly couples strolling the beach laugh at me. But I laugh at myself too, so that's okay.
4. Have a good camera.
The photos in this post are not the best I took, I am saving those for something else. They're also not very good in general. I was frequently frustrated by what my camera could not do. I think the people who say "your camera doesn't matter" are those who have expensive, high-quality ones. What the machine itself can't manage, you can sometimes achieve in editing. For these pictures, I changed the levels (basically affecting the contrast) and increased saturation slightly to replicate what I saw with my eye. But nothing can really overcome the basic technical incompetencies of the camera and its lens.
5. Don't wait for sunrise.
When it comes, it's heart-stopping to watch. I stood for a long time with my camera quiet, just feeling the sacredness of the moment. Photographing it was less fulfilling. All the rich, plump colours had gone. Of course, my little camera couldn't really capture the magnificence of light emerging from low, ocean-coloured clouds. But even with a good camera I think I would have felt like the fabulousness of the morning was over by then. That time between first light and sunrise is a poem of love and anticipation.
click on photographs to enlarge them
linking with skywatch