Photo Shoot: Taking pictures of sunrises, sunsets

  • Ron Bowman—For the Monitor

  • Sunrise over Meredith Bay. Ron Bowman / For the Monitor

For the Monitor
Published: 7/31/2021 4:00:18 PM

Have you ever wondered how to photograph a sunrise, or sunset? Or, have you ever wondered when is the best time or what are the best weather conditions, for capturing color in the sky? Well, that is what we are going to discuss in this article.


Let us start with the obvious. The sun rises in the east, so if you have a scene in mind (lake, field, ocean), think about the best westerly location to be in, to witness the sunrise in the east. For example, this was taken of Meredith Bay looking southeast. You also need to be aware of where the sun is rising in different seasons. In winter months it will rise in a slightly different location than in the summer.

Remember to check the sunrise time in the area you will be photographing and arrive 45 minutes to 1 hour prior to sunrise (this is called twilight time). That means in the summer, when the sun is rising around 5 a.m., you will need to be at your destination at 4 a.m. to 4:15 a.m. Don’t forget to estimate the drive time to your destination.

If getting up this early is not your thing, then you may want to think about photographing the sunrise in the fall, when the sun rises at 7:30 a.m. The colors in the sky will change dramatically during twilight time (before actual sunrise), so be prepared to capture a sequence of images as the sky changes from pink to yellow. Most photos taken during the twilight hours will require longer exposures, so your camera or smart phone will need to be on a tripod. If you have a digital camera, you may want to set the (Scene Mode), to dusk/dawn or sunset. Or, you can set your digital camera to P (program mode) and allow the camera to choose the proper settings.

Remember, don’t look directly into the sun while photographing the actual sunrise.

The best time to photograph beautiful colors in the sky is when the cloud cover is estimated to be between 30-70%, with low humidity and good visibility. If weather conditions call for a sunny day, although the sunset might be nice, you won’t get the pinks and yellows in the clouds. So, you should look for partly or cloudy conditions. You can also monitor the website to see if your area is expecting good color for either sunsets or sunrises. On this website you are looking for the warmer yellow and red colors and not the blue colors.


Similar to my comments about sunrises, you will need to plan on the time of day and time of year for capturing sunsets in your area. For example, if you are wanting a lake view sunset, you will need to arrive at the east side of the lake. As the sun sets, the colors in the sky will become more vivid, so hang round for another 15 to 30 minutes after sunset to capture the changing light.

Weather conditions will affect sunsets, so to get more vivid colors, the cloud cover should be between 30-70%, just like sunrises. Some of the most dramatic sunsets occur just after a thunderstorm passed through, so keep this in mind if you can plan accordingly. You can also check the website to check the conditions in your area.

Ron Bowman is a NH photographer, with more than 50 years of experience photographing weddings, real estate, and New England landscapes. He is a member of the Lakes Region Art Association and can be reached at: You can also view his work at the Lakes Region Art Gallery located in the Tanger Outlets, Suite 300, in Tilton and at

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