Early morning is an exciting time to photograph. A landscape looks more lively and lush when photographed early in the morning. The soft light brings life to subtle details.
For example, if you’re photographing a meadow of swamp grass surrounded by tall trees, sunlight filters through the trees, speckling the grasses with fingers of light.
When you shoot landscapes with the sun behind your back right after the sun rises, your camera exposure meter will think the scene needs to be brighter and will crank up the exposure. Review your photos as your photo shoot progresses. If the image on your LCD monitor looks brighter than the scene before you, use exposure compensation to decrease the exposure.
As the scene gets brighter, the camera will get closer to the correct exposure. If you set exposure compensation once and start shooting, you may wind up with pictures that are too bright. Review every image you shoot and adjust settings according to what you see on the camera LCD monitor.
In the early morning, the sun is low on the horizon. There generally is also some humidity in the air that disperses the light rays. The subjects you photograph in early morning are bathed in soft luminous light that is gold in color. The clouds pick up color as well and become puffy wads of pink and orange cotton candy.
After the sun rises, you can capture some wonderful silhouettes by shooting pictures where the sun is in the frame. You can also shoot into the sun and get some detail by hiding the sun behind a tree. If you’re photographing on a humid morning and hide the sun behind a tree, the sun's rays will seem to fan out from behind the tree.
The direction in which you point your camera during an early morning photo shoot depends on where the most beautiful scenery is. Sometimes you can photograph an area that has beauty wherever you look. If you know the location, choose a vantage point that gives you good photographs when you shoot into the sun and away from the sun.
Before committing to an early morning photo shoot, visit the area when the sun is shining a day or two before your photo shoot. This gives you an idea of which areas of the scene will be illuminated as the sun gets higher in the sky. It will also give you an idea of where to set up shop, which objects of the landscape can be used as features, and so on.
Checking out the area before the shoot beats getting there when it’s dark and you’re running on nothing but high-octane coffee.