It’s All In How You Read the Time
“I know you like to greet the sun, but how do you capture those great sunrises?” This question hits my inbox a lot. This person went on to say, “I looked at my iPhone and arrived minutes before it said it was time for sunrise, but I missed it!” I get that a lot from photographers, especially when they are going to a locale for the first time. Here’s my formula in calculating the time to avoid missing that glorious sunrise.
If you look at your weather-friendly app and it says that sunrise is at 06:00, understand that is when the sun breaks the horizon in that general area, not the exact location you want to photograph. Take that 06:00 sunrise time and start subtracting from it for your arrival time. First, subtract 30 minutes because it is at least 30 minutes prior to the posted sunrise time that the light comes up and if there are any clouds, they start to get color. This is when you want to be shooting. Then subtract the amount of time it takes you to set up your gear. Then subtract the time it takes you to get from your car to the place you want to shoot. In the photo above, it was a 20-minute walk down into Bryce to get to this spot so an additional 20 minutes was subtracted. Then subtract how long it takes to drive from where you’re staying to the place you need to park. Then subtract how long it takes you to get up, have coffee until you start your car engine to leave. This means being up at 03:45 to make this shot. This is my basic formula to greet the sun with my camera.