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Capture Epic Winter Sunrises On Your Phone

At 05:23 AM we started our epic adventure to capture a winter sunrise using only our phones. The quality of pictures and videos blew us away, we now live in a time where everyone can be adventure photographers!

We're going to share with you our tips and tricks on how you can do it too with the camera that's always on you, your mobile phone.

Epic Winter Sunrise | Spivo Ep. 01

1. Plan out your hike

Pick out your favorite hike and do some research. It will be hard to find a good spot to watch the sunrise in the dark. Get inspiration from social media by looking at how other photographers and adventurers are capturing that hiking spot.

Once you know where you're going, plan to show up 45 minutes to an hour before the sunrise. Make sure to add enough time for hiking, driving, waking up, etc. The result will be a really early wake-up time, but I promise you it will be worth it!

30 minutes before sunrise

Sunrise hike pro-tips

  • Flashlights, and food! The last thing you want is to get lost in the dark and hangry.
  • Bring extra layers. It's easy staying warm while you're hiking, but the second you stop to watch a sunrise for a couple hours you will get cold.
  • Bring battery chargers. There's nothing worse than having your camera die during an epic sunrise.
  • If it's too cold and your phone won't open, place it under your armpit for 5 minutes, and you're good to go.

2. Capture picture-perfect sunrises with your phone

The key to any great landscape photo is having clear subjects positioned in a nice composition that shows the beautiful view and your surroundings. In the photo above, you can quickly gather that Marc and I went on a hike and experienced an incredible sunrise from a snowy and remote peak. I always strive towards capturing photos that really live up to the full experience.

I used an iPhone and our New Travel Lens and Flexible Tripod Handgrip to capture the picture. When shooting pictures I always follow these four simple steps:

One: pick your subjects and composition

In our sunrise photo, I picked 3 subjects, the sun, Marc in the middle, and myself on the right. Aim to have at least two. Once you've picked your subjects you need to place them and frame the image. You want to make sure that the subjects aren't too close to each other, that will confuse the eye and make the image look cluttered. I chose to place each subject roughly within thirds of each other.

Two: include as much background and foreground as possible

During sunrise the background is easy to pick out, it's the sky! I just make sure to capture a good amount of sky above the sun and a good amount of landscape beneath the sun. You'll need to experiment and walk around to find a perspective that works for you.

The foreground really brings the image together and helps you capture the mood and context of the adventure. In the example above, the foreground is the snowy peak that Marc and I are standing on. Without including the foreground, this picture could have been taken from anywhere, like a city balcony which would of appeared to be a lot less adventurous.

Three: make sure you have the right gear

Capturing the subjects, foreground, and background all in a nice composition is a tall order for one image. It's almost impossible to achieve using your smartphone camera. That's why we developed the new Travel Lens, a wide angle perspective lens for your mobile phone. The extra wide angle view from the Travel Lens allows you to fit more in your picture without cluttering it, giving it that epic adventure feeling we all want in our pictures.

The picture above was also taken using our new Flexible Tripod Handgrip. We placed our phone with the Travel Lens down on the ground, set the timer, and ran into position.

Set the Tripod down anywhere with the flexible legs

Four: choose the right camera settings on your phone

The first thing you'll want to do is lower the brightness/exposure. It's a lot easier to brighten up your shadows while editing than it is to lower the brightness of an overexposed sky. This is a good rule for most pictures, but essential for sunrises and sunsets.

The default camera app on your phone is good enough if you're not planning on editing your pictures using Lightroom or Photoshop. If you do want to edit your pictures I would recommend getting a RAW camera app, we use Camera+ on our iPhones.

The main advantage of using RAW camera apps is to take long exposure pictures. Mobile phone cameras are good but they still don't capture as much light as other professional cameras. As a result, you might get grainy looking pictures. You can combat this problem by increasing the shutter speed to let in more light (for example, increase the shutter speed from 1/60th of a second to 10 seconds). The only drawback is that you need to use a tripod to keep the phone incredibly still. If your phone is moving during the picture you'll get motion blur, which is worst than a grainy photo.

3. Make an adventure video with your phone

The camera sensors in smartphones are getting ridiculously good, which means you can make videos that almost look like they were taken on professional cameras. The only thing missing on your phone is the wide angle lens.

Wide angle perspectives

To give your viewers the feeling like they are there requires you to shoot in a wide angle perspective that is similar to the perspective of your eye. The Travel Lens was designed to get those shots with your phone.

Use the iPhone Case to mount the Travel Lens or the Universal Lens Clip

Get a variety of shots

The key to a good video is getting a variety of shots, you want to keep the viewers engaged. Showing them the same selfie perspective or forward shot will get old pretty quick. Get creative and mix it up:

Set your phone down with the Tripod and get in the video

Use the Tripod in handgrip mode for epic selfie videos

Tie up the Flexible Tripod in a tree to get interesting perspectives

Our mission here at Spivo is to help you capture your experiences in the easiest and best way possible, so you can inspire others by sharing your amazing adventures. Check out our new adventure essentials here.

Adventure on,

André, Co-Founder

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