Shooting at Dusk and at Dawn


Firstly congratulations to Cluke and Mhunt for winning this years LUMIX G Experience Photographer and 4K Photographer of the year 2015. Don’t forget this month’s winner will be announced at the start of November, so make sure you submit your entry before the closing date of 31st October to be in with a chance of winning! For this month’s Expert Advice article our resident photographer, Phil Surbey, set himself the task of shooting at dusk and at dawn.

Hi there LUMIX Experience users!

Phil Surbey here – I’m back! Fresh from co-judging the Photographer of the Year double competition – for which, see the results here – it’s time for another article on a specific type of shoot and, of course, this month’s related Photo Challenge.

I’ve been trawling through my archives to set a theme for this month’s competition and I’m asking you to shoot at dawn or dusk. One of life’s everyday pleasures is being up at the crack of dawn to see in the new day, or out and about at the opposite end to watch the sun go down. And, obviously, enthusiasts like us know to have our cameras at the ready to capture these spectacular moments!

October is normally a pretty good time of the year to get great light for either of these two special times of day and, of course, there is the added bonus of not having to be up at four in the morning. That’s because the sun rises quite late – and it is also going down increasingly early as winter begins to draw in. So, it seemed like the perfect choice for the competition this time around – don’t forget you can win great prizes, so please send me your best shot.

So what then, for me, makes a good sunset or dawn image? I think good shots with lots of colour in the sky need some contrast in the foreground, to lead you into the scene. To illustrate my point, have a look at the first three of my photos here. The dark shadowed land in the foreground is setting the expansive view.



These shots nos.1-3 were taken at Saunton Beach in North Devon, a truly beautiful part of the country. Sometimes here, the light can be especially good after the sun has actually dipped below the horizon, as shown with shot no.3. Sometimes it is hard to know (unless you are familiar with the scenery and know your East from West!) whether it’s a sunrise or a sunset shot you are looking at.

Dawn & Dusk 4

Image 4

My shot no.4 is a view from a hotel window in Lucca in Italy. Lovely place, lovely view, lovely Light. They say Tuscany has a certain quality of sunlight found nowhere else – it’s often mentioned when discussing the great Renaissance artists who chose to paint here and to attempt to capture it in their work. Well, I may not be an Old Master or a genius like Leonardo da Vinci, but I do appreciate what they mean about the light and the superbly rich colours it creates!

Dawn & Dusk 5

Image 5

Dawn & Dusk 6

Image 6

Shots 5 and 6 – regular readers will know already about my passion for sports cars – were both taken at dusk. I love it when there’s still enough light to shoot fairly neutral-colour shots, but with a hue of the setting sun. I’ve employed a little post-production here, but the last rays of the day do most of the work. I am a big fan of shots such as this where you can see the engineering perfection, the clearly defined lines of the bodywork.

Dawn & Dusk 7

Image 7

And now, as they say, for something completely different – shot no.7 is a scene at the top of Calton Hill, overlooking Edinburgh. I took it nearing sunset but shooting into the low sun, which was behind the clouds and so created these lovely silhouetted figures amongst the architecture. A shot like this needs to taken quickly – as soon as the people milling around are positioned sympathetically to their surroundings.

Dawn & Dusk 8

Image 8

The next shot is, obviously, New York at dusk – and I defy anyone not to get great shots in The Big Apple! It was taken at the front of Grand Central Station, looking up at the decorative roof ornamentation and on to the illuminated Chrysler Building, just before full darkness to get that delicious equal balance of natural light and artificial light, just so.

Dawn & Dusk 9

Image 9

My final shot here, no.9, is of a very magical place, Marigot Bay on St Lucia. I was fortunate enough to be here in the Caribbean on a week’s shoot to promote a staple local crop, bananas. This image has been enhanced by shooting through a Cokin Sunset graduated filter. It was a good sunset… of course it was! But I felt it needed some in-camera help, hence the use of the filter. Never be afraid to deploy your kit!

Well, I hope one of my pictures will inspire you to get out there and shoot some amazing views for yourselves. I look forward to judging the entries for this month as ever. The subject is entirely up to you; the point being the time of day in which you are shooting it. And remember to take a look at the 2015 LUMIX Photographer of the Year winning entry, a wonderful shot called If At First You Don’t Succeed – and the other top shots – if you need any more inspiration.


Happy shooting!


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