Sunrises And Sunsets At Sea: Photo Tips And Examples

One of my favorite parts of travel by cruise ship is when the sun comes up and when the sun goes down.   At Sea is a collection of those moments, captured while sailing around the world with a variety of .  When it comes to the topic of and , it does not really matter which cruise line or ship is being sailed; the magnificent view is quite similar regardless.  What can indeed make a difference is where in the world I happen to be.  The time of the year also makes a difference in the way sunrises and are captured with cameras.  Interestingly, there is actually more to capturing sunrises and than one might imagine.  We’ll get to that topic shortly.  First, 300 of my favorite sunrises and :

Here are some practices I have come to employ in order to frame sunrises and sunsets, a favorite part of any cruise.

  • Get Your Priorities Straight: Sunrises and sunsets happen on their schedule, not yours.   If capturing a variety of them is the goal, plan your day accordingly.  They will not wait for you nor should they be expected to.
  • Watch The Clock: I have an app on my Apple Watch that tells me when sunrises and sunsets will occur anywhere in the world.  My watch needs to be able to communicate with the planet via GPS to do that. On series one Apple Watch that meant having my phone handy and connected.  Series two promises that built in GPS capability will satisfy that requirement. The jury is still out on that though.
  • Use Your Camera And Your Smartphone- Doubling up on image capturing devices is always a good idea in any setting, sunrises and sunsets are no exception.  Initially I did this for a backup in case I did not figure out all the buttons, knobs and settings on my camera quick enough to get the shot.  Now I pretend I know better but double up on images anyway.
  • Weigh The Value Of Late Night Activities- Late dinner on cruise lines that have an early or late seating can be problematic in capturing sunrises and sunsets.  Late dinner is not out of the question totally but might be better limited if that means repeated nights of reduced sleep in order to get up in time for sunrise.   I have nearly killed myself doing this in the past.  Really.
  • Don’t Be Afraid Of People- Just because the star around which the Earth orbits is the headliner in our show, people have value as well.  Actually, people look amazingly wonderful in twilight.  Bonus tip: many humans do not want their image captured just after waking before they have prepared themselves for the day.
  • Sunrise Photo Shoot Starts An Hour Before Sunrise- Get up earlier than the sun and walk the upper decks of the ship to get a feel for the weather and where the sun will rise in relation to the ship.  That changes daily.  The people who get lovely sunrises from their personal stateroom balcony got lucky.
  • It’s Not Rude To Abruptly Leave Friends Behind – When the sunsets, there is no need to explain to tablemates at dinner: get up, get out and capture the sunset. Actually, if there is a need to explain this is good reason to reevaluate friendships.  If they have a problem with you leaving the table for a sunset, they are not worthy.
  • A Work In Progress- Sunrises and sunsets are rarely shot and you’re done.  As the process begins, peaks and ends bringing on the day or night,  sunlight can have a dramatic effect on clouds, mountains, buildings people and cruise ships.  Get all of those now, pick favorites later.
  • Ignore The Experts- There always be someone with a fancier camera, more knowledge and a mouth that wants to advise you of the right shot to take.  Ignore them.  Actually, shoot in the opposite direction if possible. The worst experts: those who claim your shot as theirs because they pointed at the sun or want to remind you later of their helpful tip.  As a personal friend of the Creator of the Universe, I am fully aware of who made the sun and shares it with us.  It ain’t that guy.
  • Bank Shots- If what might otherwise be a stunning sunset is obscured by clouds, look in the opposite direction.  The effect of that sunset light can have a marvelous effect on everything from your friend to features of your ship. In the mini gallery above, we see the effect of being patient and taking multiple shots of the same scene which changes as does the sunlight.
  • Cloudy Does Not Always = Bad- Patience is part of the deal when capturing sunrises and sunsets.  While the sun may appear to be totally obscured, remember this: the sun is mighty powerful and has been known to burn right through clouds and/or leave them in a halo of lovely.
  • Keep Your Nose On The Horizon- that’s a thing pilots learn in Flying Little Planes 101 that applies in capturing sunrises or sunsets.  While we may be waiting for a while for the process to begin, it happens rather fast once it gets going.  At sea, the horizon is commonly thought to be the finish line on sunsets.  Once it touches the horizon, the party is over.  Wrong.  When everyone else scurries back to whatever they were doing before the event of the day (as we who love these thing say), linger and enjoy.
  • Leave The Camera Behind- While capturing sunrises and sunsets make for some lovely photo opportunities, this is also a wonderful time to enjoy your traveling companions who appreciate one of the most beautiful moments of the day.  Chatty Kathy, leave her behind.  Silence can be as golden as the sunrise or as stunning as the sunset.  Focus on that and be happy to be at sea where cruise ships give us a front row seat to one of the best shows on the planet.

  • Practice At Home- We don’t need to be at sea to learn how to shoot the sun.  It’s available at home too and the same rules/concerns/skills apply.  This image was captured on a Sunday morning as I walked back home in Florida from the neighborhood Starbucks.

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