* The 3 Stages of a Dawn Photography shoot February 12 2017

I've wanted to write a Blog about how a Dawn shoot evolves for a while now. I had a Sunrise shoot last week which gave me some images that showed the 3 stages of a Dawn shoot perfectly. 

Photographers have to be strongly-motivated if they are to capture the scenes they want. A Photographer shooting Dawn would aim to be in position, rigged to shoot, at least 30 minutes before Sunrise. In this non-technical Blog, I've set out the timing & results that can be anticipated from a typical shoot. It varies widely, of course, depending on Cloud depth & positioning. 

This is written from a photographer's perspective, & covers the visual side of Sunrise. Some info about the Scientific side of Sunrise & Light-Diffraction follows at the foot of the blog. The images featured in this article will be featured on this website, & available for purchase, shortly. 

The early stage is usually between 30 & 10 minutes before Sunrise. The colours are clean & pure, pastels-based, tending to be more Pink & less Orange. The Sun is still well below the horizon, & it's rays are just starting to travel through the higher parts of the Earth's atmosphere, which holds less of the dust, petro-chemicals & salt-spray that exists in the atmosphere closer to the ground. In the Alps, where pollution is minimal, this early stage of Dawn & the last bits of Dusk can be just ridiculously Pink, with no hint of Orange.  To view this image Full-screen, go to: https://www.facebook.com/imagesatmurrays/photos/a.562948533816552.1073741836.468820293229377/1120474784730588/?type=3&theater

 

The later stage of pre-Dawn sees the Orange building & the Pink going or gone. The Sun is getting close to the horizon, it's rays are reaching the atmosphere closer to the Earth's surface, where they colour-up the more particle-laden air. At this point, particularly on clear-Dawn shoots, the photography's getting a bit tricky. The horizon's on the edge of losing it's highlights, in what I like to call `Horizon Burn'. To view this image in Full-screen, go to: https://www.facebook.com/imagesatmurrays/photos/a.562948533816552.1073741836.468820293229377/1119029498208450/?type=3&theater

 

In the post-Dawn stage, the Sun has risen above the horizon & the colours are diminishing fast. The Sun's rays are travelling through less atmosphere by the time we see them, so the colouring-up process is diminishing. When the pastel colours of Dawn change quickly & disappear as the Sun appears, it indicates that the thickness of the pollution that causes the colouring-up process is relatively thin. This `Boundary Layer' varies considerably, tending to be thickest in times of settled weather patterns & light winds. To view this image in Full-screen, go to: https://www.facebook.com/imagesatmurrays/photos/a.562948533816552.1073741836.468820293229377/1119637124814354/?type=3&theater

For a more detailed explanation of the process, where the Light Spectrum is discussed in detail, I found an exhaustive array of discussion on the subject. One that summarised can be found at: https://www.howitworksdaily.com/question-of-the-day-%EF%BB%BFwhy-does-the-sky-look-red-at-sunrise-and-sunset/ 

I preferred the Wikipedia coverage of the colouring process; it can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunrise#Colors