Predawn and sunrise

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In predawn hours, the cool blue and gray hues of the night sky dominate and create a soft, shadowless light. This is the time to capture subtle, moody images of landscape formations, bodies of water, and close-ups of hoarfrost or dew on leaves, grass, flowers, and insects. I also look to capture the fog or mist that tends to hang low over valleys and water.

Contrast is low as the sun's crepuscular rays are scattered by clouds, trees, and atmospheric dust as they cut through the atmosphere at a low angle. Landscape, fashion, and portrait photographers often use the light available during and immediately after sunrise. During sunrise, tall structures, such as buildings and trees, are lit by the sun while the rest of the landscape appears cool and shadows are filled in by light from the sky.

10.6 Silcox Hut half-buried in snow, halfway up Oregon's Mount Hood, provides stark contrast to this snowy scene. ISO 100, f/16, 1/200 sec., with an EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM lens.

In broad terms, both sunrise and sunset register at approximately 2000 K. To get the best color, you can set a custom white balance. If you're fortunate enough to have a color temperature meter, setting the K white balance option to the color temperature meter reading provides the best results. If you're shooting RAW images, you can also adjust the color temperature after capture in DPP, Camera Raw, or Lightroom.

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