Photo: Starburst Crater

Haleakala Crater lit just after sunrise.

Back Story

This image was captured last month during the 3rd Annual Maui Photo Festival as part of their Haleakala Sunrise excursion. It is actually an HDR image created from 3 exposures and using Photomatix Pro. At first glance, it might not strike someone as the type of image people think of when they hear the term HDR. But here, I used multiple exposures to capture detail in the clouds as well as the crater below – which would have not been possible in a single exposure due to the range in highlights and shadows created by the intensity of the newly risen sun.

Here, I wanted to get as much detail as possible, so I shot at f/16. I could have framed the shot without the sun, but knowing that such a small aperture would give me a starburst effect (I was playing around with earlier in the trip) I waited to get enough separation between the clouds and the sun and placed it in the corner of the shot. Of course, it also gave me a bit of lens flare, but I didn’t mind.

Stick Around, It Ain’t Over

This was my 3rd Haleakala sunrise, and just like the previous two trips, right after sunrise, the summit and lookout points go from being shoulder-to-shoulder crowds right before the big moment, to a sparse group of folks right after. I don’t know what everyone’s hurry is, there’s still more to see (and shoot) than just the sunrise.

Better Next Time

I did want to fill in some of the foreground rocks, but my attempts with using a fill flash came up fairly lame. In hindsight, had I brought along my 32″ 5-in-1 reflector with me instead of leaving it in the hotel room that morning, it may have given me a better result than the flash. Something to try for next time.

One Last Note…

Hopefully this goes without saying, but never, ever stare at the sun through your camera’s viewfinder to get a shot like this, or any other sunrise or sunset image. You’re only asking for trouble.

For this and my other sunrise shots from the crater, I have a tripod setup and was using the Live View mode on my LCD to frame the image, switched back out of Live View (to activate autofocus again), and used the autofocus focal point selector to pick my focus point. Finally, I had a remote shutter release to fire off the brackted shots (remember, I was shooting for HDR).

Net result, I wasn’t staring at the sun through the viewfinder. Please don’t learn this the hard way.

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