Photo Review - Sunrise at the Pier by James Hickok

A photo taken at New Brighton Beach at sunrise - I caught the sun just as it peaked over the horizon on a calm and cloudless day.

F11, 1/125s, ISO100

Initial Thoughts by Reviewer

This is one lovely sunset! The technical details are done correctly and the result is beautiful colours with just the right amount of visible details. The sun is a bit too bright, but that’s something that can’t be avoided without filters (and also a matter of personal taste). However, that again would affect the overall feeling of the photo and is why we have post-processing! I have to get back to colours and light once again - they are done really nicely and I just can’t take my eyes off of the dreamy beach with the sunlight resting on it. Well done! Any changes in either aperture, shutter speed, or ISO would mean losing the wonderful details and shadows resulting in either plain silhouettes without detail or dark overexposed or blurry image so the settings you selected were the correct choice.


One thing that bothers me about this photo is the composition. When I look at the photo my eyes can’t decide where to go - to the sun, pier or waves and beach. That’s not a good thing. When someone looks at the photo, their eyes should rest on it comfortably, without the need to wander and search for what to look at. Every photo should have a clear focal point - or points, but in that case those points are somehow connected so that the eyes are automatically travelling from one to another. In this photo that’s not happening. We have 2 wonderful elements that would each make a wonderful photo but together they create a bit of confusion as they have no connection points.

Ideally, these two circles would overlap, or there would be 3 circles that would fill the whole frame. Look how much better each of these elements look on their own...

One of the reasons this looks better is because the sun and sky are not centred although that is another way you could go with this photo. When you have a wonderful sunset but clear and boring sky, the best way to get the maximum out of that scene is to put the sky to the upper third of the photo and let the light and small details (which you did so nicely) do the rest. Like this:

See how much difference just a slight movement of the sun to the top has made? Now when you look at the photo your eyes can rest on it, catching the beautiful sunset first and then noticing all the sweet details such as pier, beach and waves.

James has shared some of his photography tips in our NZPhotographer Magazine - make sure to check them out! In Excio community we are all learning, growing and sharing knowledge together. No one is an "expert" and there is nothing that could stop you from getting better at taking photos. Find out about our membership options here.

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