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Photographing Sunrises and Sunsets: Image Inspiration & Tips

written by: •edited by: William Springer•updated: 6/25/2012

There is nothing more beautiful than the brilliant oranges, pinks, and yellow hues in sunrises and sunsets. In this image gallery, sunrises and sunsets come to life through the artwork of Scott Thadd Grant. Scott gives us beautiful imagery along with tips, hints and suggestions.

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    Contrast

    Contrast 

    A beautiful sunrise, such as this one in New Hampshire, is the reason Scott Grant loves his work. He’s up for the challenge with his camera in hand and his artful eye. The spectacular color display of this particular morning was captured nicely by Scott, as he keeps the key focus on the vibrant colors of the sky. The trees in silhouette against the palette of colors, along with the straight horizon, made the perfect division of sky and water. The reflections of the sky, not only in the water, but on the boat as well, lend a hand to a desired blending of color and a balance that is perfection. The texture added to the photograph through rocks on the shoreline adds depth and breaks up the mirrored image from the sky. With the "rule of thirds" in mind, the eye naturally looks toward the boat, as it appears in the lower third of the photograph, set on the lower horizontal line.

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    Water and Sky Meet

    Water and Sky Meet 

    Early morning provides ample opportunity to collect amazing photos. The sunrise in this photograph is no exception. Amazing salmon oranges, mixed with pinks and a touch of purple, paint an outstanding artpiece. Reflective effects are used to enhance the picture, providing a host of colors as a background for the subject matter. Using the straight lines of the docks, Scott's art naturally moves the eye across the picture, following the docks. The straight line of the horizon completes the natural focus of the picture, as it flows smoothly with the dock lines.

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    Sunset Beauty

    Sunset Beauty 

    When the sky comes alive, you can't pass up the photographic moment! This New Hampshire sunrise was captured by Scott one early morning. The vivid colors of the sky light up the water, creating the illusion that the sky and water are one. The silhouette of hills and dock are the defining dividers between the two. Perfect picture with clear focus on the subject, the use of reflections, amazing composition and a high quality piece of art overall. Nature provides us with seconds in time that scream to be captured on camera; this is one of those seconds. The natural straight horizontal line of the shore, along with the dock jutting outward from the forefront land, gives the photograph the needed division and balance.

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    Land and Sea

    Land and Sea 

    Scott has encased the surrounding beauty of a sunrise on the sea with a unique shot of a lighthouse on rocks with softer, more subdued sunrise colors as a backdrop. The textures of the ocean give the picture depth and design. The lines of the horizon give the picture a base that is balanced and ready for the silhouettes of the rocks and lighthouse. The lighthouse is set off to the side, but remains in the middle section of the rule of thirds line, where the eye naturally entertains the subject.

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    Daybreak Perfection

    Daybreak Perfection 

    Straight line of the horizon and an amazingly beautiful sunset build the base of this picture perfectly. The eye naturally moves towards the bright value of the sun and takes in the array of colors surrounding it. Cloudy skies make a good canvas to catch a morning sunrise, as the glowing oranges, yellows, pinks and white are bold against the gray. Composition of this photograph is good, as the foreground land mass is in the lower portion of the "grid", while the horizon remains in the mid section, running parallel to the grid lines in terms of the rule of thirds.

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    Reflections of Fall

    Reflections of Fall 

    The rich colors of the sunset are highlighted by the water in this beautiful photograph by Scott. The straight lines of the shore and the texture of the trees creates highlights that capture the viewer to take in the beauty of the autumn picture. The main focus is all set in one horizontal line along the middle grid section. Colorful hues give the picture depth and beauty. Bricks on the right side of the shore add to the texture of the image, to focus the eye toward the structure and colorful fall trees.

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    Sea Life

    Sea Life 

    The vibrant colors surrounding a setting sun are an eye catcher in almost any photograph. The eye tends to be drawn to the higher value even though darker cloud covering subdues some of the brightness and glare. Texture found through water lends a hand to an art piece that has the viewer intrigued for a bit longer, to study the ocean. Natural horizontal lines of the clouds, land and jetty make a balanced canvas in which to begin the artful scene.

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    Glowing Skies

    Glowing Skies 

    The amazing colors of an evening sunset were captured once again by this self-taught artist. Scott let nature detail the picture with color and straight-lined horizons. The silhouette of land and trees balances out the composition, as the images are kept in the rule of thirds mid and bottom sections of the grid. Textures lie within the reflections of trees against the glass-smooth lake and in the clouds' natural design.

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    Sunrise Subdued

    Sunrise Subdued 

    Sunrises can be just as beautiful when subdued by cloud cover and darker tones. Textures of driftwood and shells line the shore as the small waves bash their way onto the land, creating texture through motion. The silhouette of the fisherman lies perfectly among the water background with a straight horizon in the distance, all lying in the middle section of the grid. The glimmering light values in color along the water, topped off with white caps on the waves, brings the eye to the flow of light, with the fisherman's dark colors covering the secondary glance.

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    Silhouettes in the Sunrise

    Silhouettes in the Sunrise 

    Textures created by cloud formations and wind whispering across the water's surface give this photograph the attraction it needs to keep the eye focused. Horizon silhouettes break the sky-water connection and the geese flying through the lower section of the grid frame the sunset photo well. The horizon and clouds flow through the picture with intense horizontal lines, while the texture of wind on the water keeps it interesting. Bold colors juxtaposed with dark colors of the horizon make an appealing combination.

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    Water, Sky and Dramatic Hues

    Water, Sky and Dramatic Hues 

    This photograph was captured by Scott under whispy-cloud skies of New Hampshire. The textures of rocks and objects along the beach bring out the lighter value of the sun. The sun, rising above the horizon captures a blend of color, textures and beauty. The motion of the ocean waves blends the ocean and shore, giving way to a great composition. The sun stands out along the orange colors above the horizon, and with lighter values in color and the placement, it draws the eye to the center grid of the rule of thirds theory. Darker colors stand out among the subtle hues, creating a dramatic scene.

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    Along the Beach

    Along the Beach 

    The sun rising over the sandy beach reflects touches of color and light to the pools of water and rocks to make a great photograph. With the ocean in the horizon, capped with orange tones, it makes a great base to lighter tones of sunlight to captivate the viewer's eye. Textures of sand, rock and ocean were caught by Scott, to create a unique view of an ocean sunrise scene. This is one of my favorite photographs taken by Scott, as the dramatic differences between the rocks, ocean and sky form an view that brings about thoughts of a perfect morning to make sand castles or to scour the pools of water for shells.

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    Playing at the Beach

    Playing at the Beach 

    The dark colors of the land, people and horizon produce a perfect setting for a brightly lit sun. The sun, with its reflection in the water, hosts colors the eye wants to focus on. Silhouettes of people playing on the beach invites the viewer to join them through the setting of the subjects in the grid, the dark, dramatic colors and texture of ocean water around them.

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    Evening Over the Isle

    Evening Over the Isle 

    The brightness of the evening sun setting in the horizon and the reflective strip in the water draw the eye down a natural line of sight on the dock, followed by the gazebo. The arrangement of subject matter in a grid creates a natural flow and point of view. Textures of grass and water ripples add to the depth and captures the scene well in composition and flow.

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    Sunset and Moonrise

    Sunset and Moonrise 

    While the moon is already boldly in place, the remnants of sunset still remain, filling the water and horizon with colorful reminders of a day gone by. Plants and land in the foreground are nearly in silhouette mode, with just enough light remaining to allow us to view their colors. Ripples in the water give the sense of movement through their texture. Ripples in the background water create a whiter hue or higher value in the color wheel, although do not stand out nearly as much as the bright white in the moon. The eye is drawn to the moon because of this. The setting sun splashes the sky with pinks and oranges, and graying clouds make the perfect backdrop to help them stand out. Framing the bottom of the picture creates the feel of sitting in the shrubbery to view the beauty of the lake on a perfect moonlit night. The leaves are dropping to leave the bare minimum on the plants in the foreground, leaving the photograph enhanced instead of covered.

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    Scott Thadd Grant and Frameworthy Photography

    Scott is a self-taught photographer. Every moment of spare time he can muster, he spends taking shots like the ones in this slideshow. Mr. Grant believes in keeping the photos natural, with very little or no changes through an enhancement program. Scott believes that his job is to catch a second in time and if he has done his job properly, it's magic.

    Through his artwork, he can share with us the beauty of New Hampshire and other places he visits. He displays many of his photos through photo.net, under his portfolio name "Thadd". The author of this article would like to thank Scott for sharing his photos with others.

References

  • Grant, Scott Thadd; Frameworthy Photography; http://photo.net/photodb/user?user_id=3911429