Photographing sunrises and sunsets can be pleasant, but when using long lenses to get that sun bigger in the frame it can be difficult and especially dangerous (blinding) for the eyes to compose the image by looking through the viewfinder. Even shorter focal lengths can be dangerous with prolonged viewing. Tripod users can use the DOF preview button to stop down the aperture and look at the resulting darker viewfinder. Even then, you may have to stop down more than you want for that purpose and then open up again at time of capture. For handholding (yes, some of us hand hold even for landscapes!), using that DOF preview button and simultaneously composing the scene is tricky at best.
Misty Winter Sunrise, Canon 7D + 100-400L @190mm, manual exposure, evaluative metering, Live View, handheld, 1/3200s., f/14, ISO 800.
Come Live View to the rescue. Many of today’s DSLR’s now have this feature, so if you have it, use it! You will now be able to compose the image by looking at the sun without worrying about damaging your eyes by using the LCD display at the back of your camera, or using the “flip screen” if your camera is equipped with that. Easier to compose, and even for tripod users it means no longer fiddling with the DOF preview button to protect your eyes.
Cape Breton Island, NS, sunset, Canon 7D + Tamron 28-75mm @66mm, manual exposure, evaluative metering, Live View, handheld, 1/640s., f/14, ISO 200.
The best added bonus is the instant exposure and depth-of-field preview: raise or lower either the shutter speed or aperture and watch the image go dimmer or brighter on the spot, the DOF getting thinner and thicker, and you can also see the “star burst” effect changing before capturing the image. What’s not to like by using that feature for beautiful sunrises and sunsets?
Quick tip for handholders: when using Live View that means sacrificing one key lens stabilizing technique – pressing the back of the camera tightly against your face. You will need to separate the camera from your face to view the LCD and keep the composition intact. Rather than untucking your elbows from your body (which would be losing yet another essential “stabilizing” factor) you can simply pull your neck back and look “down your nose” towards the camera’s back while keeping your elbows firmly pressed into your body 😀