Sometimes I’ll surprise even myself. I’ve never been a particularly early riser. But when I get excited or stressed out, with some will power, I can get up before the sun rises. And in this specific day down in Mexico on the Caribbean, the horizon was pretty clear with little haze and so I got up and tiptoed out of the hotel room, careful not to wake up my wife. I felt like I was the only hotel guest awake at 5:30 in the morning, but the staff at the hotel was already in full swing as I made my way down to the beach.
For some reason I’d never taken a picture of a sunrise with my a DSLR. I don’t know why I haven’t. Maybe I’ve never been in the right place at the right time. But today I was determined to do so. I didn’t have a tripod with me for long exposures, but no matter. I just took a series of shots with the camera on a beach bed propped up with towels. I took a lot of shots. I was more interested in seeing how different filters, exposures lengths, apertures, and the uncontrollable aspect of the light changing drastically every second for the next hour. The sky changed from a dark blue, deep red, purple, orange and yellow to a light blue in the course of the next 30 minutes. (I don’t know if that was the exact order) I was so preoccupied with taking photos during the course of an hour, that I didn’t notice that both of my legs fell asleep as I was squatting like a baseball catcher. I actually fell over and had to lie in the sand for a few minutes and wait for my legs to recuperate.
Location: Cancun, Mexico
Sensor: Canon 6D
I used a 24 mm focal length and a polarizer for this shot. F8.0 at 1/60 gave me the best and most realistic results. I tried doing longer exposures which made the sky more magenta and purple. The ocean was obviously more flat and blurred and didn’t have a good aesthetic in my opinion. I chose this particular shot because you can make out the whole circular sun just breaking over the horizon, and it isn’t obscured by clouds. I think I got lucky as you can see there is dense cloud coverage to the immediate left and right. The fore ground cloud coverage is amazing and gives some really nice highlights and complexity to the sky. I also tried to use a graduated filter on this photo since at first glance the foreground may seem underexposed. However in this case I left it under exposed because it provides a better contrast to the sky, sun, and its relection in the beach. The beach itself isn’t all that interesting so keeping it in the “shadows” has better appeal to me. I managed to get back into the hotel room and slip back into bed before my wife knew what happened!
Location: Akumal, Mexico
Sensor: Canon 6D
About a week later, my family and I had dinner at a restaurant that was located right off the beach, La Buena Vida. There was a full moon that was just on the horizon, and I happened to have my camera with me and decided to experiment. My first few shots were completely over exposed. The moon was just too bright and I got no definition on the edges of the moon. I couldn’t get the moon just over the horizon since it took me a few tries to get the settings right on the camera. I finally found a useable setting with my 35mm prime, 3200 ISO, f2.2, 0.8 sec. 3200 ISO still provided a very useable picture with manageable noise on the 6D. I was able to snap a few photos. Maybe I’ll show it in an updated post, but I captured the moon rising over the course of 5 minutes which I thought was pretty cool. I wouldn’t classify this as an awesome shot, but I did put a lot of work into it, so I wanted to share it. Let me know what you think.