Hog’s Back Sunrise

Hogs Back Sunrise (0825)

I’m not sure I ever posted about something that happened on the day. It usually takes me at least a day until I get to process any photos and write about them. Today wasn’t going to be an exception. However there is one good thing about an early rise: it usually gives time during the day to catch up on such things as processing photos.

So, unusually, the view above is was greeted us this morning after a half-hour-ish walk from campus up the Hog’s Back. The plan was to meet a few guys from the photographic society on campus at 06:40, but I must admit I was a bit late, and by the time I got there they had gone. So I had some uphill catching-up to do… Sunrise today was listed at 07:43, so the plan was to get there about a half hour before. In the end it all worked out, and I caught up as the last steep track began.

We were hoping for some fog, as the valleys south of Guildford tend to collect a fair amount this time of year. But last night was not quite cold enough I think, so as a passer-by commented, it was not as dramatic as it sometimes is. In any case, we set up, and I decided to go with a wide angle lens to capture as much sky as I could. Then it was simply a matter of waiting and hoping.

On our way up I was asked for a few tips, but off the top of my head I couldn’t think of much. There are many things I now take for granted when shooting landscapes. For example, I often just set the lens to manual focus and set that at infinity (or at approximately the hyperfocal distance, depending on foreground elements). Use of manual exposure and low ISO has become so obvious I don’t even think about them. I generally bracket exposures too, as it’s hard to judge on the small screen what will look best, so I save the decision for later. Often I find it useful to blend exposures, too, especially with the sun in the frame. Even though I’d be using a ND grad filter to lower the exposure of the sky. Something I did remember to share was to avoid using live view with the sun up, or you’d effectively be focusing the sun on the camera sensor. Mirrorless camera users don’t have much choice here.

The photo above is a blend of two exposures taken one stop apart, tripod mounted of course. I used an ultra-wide angle lens to get as much sky as possible, though I knew it would make the hills look tiny. On a large print it should not matter too much. A hard ND grad filter was used to darken the sky. Processing was quick, using the usual selective curves to balance the exposure of various regions somewhat, and a global curves layer to set overall contrast.

As always, I encourage you to click on the image for a larger version; comments welcome.

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