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Where are the best places to see the sunrise in Santorini? – Photos of Santorini Greece by Rick McEvoy

Where are the best places to see the sunrise in Santorini?

The view of sunrise with the church I N Ayiou Mapkou in the foreground which has spectacular views of the east of the lovely Greek Island of Santorini. In the background is the island of Anafi basking in the sunrise

Santorini has stunning sunrises and sunsets. And the bits in-between are that bad either!

But where are the best places to see the sunrise in Santorini? On top of the caldera is where – and one of my favourite places is the area around I N Ayiou Mapkou church which you can see in the photo on this post.

Why do I like this photo so much?

I like this photo for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is a lots going on in the sky, varying densities of cloud and a range of colours.

I love the reflection of some of the sunrise colours from the sea.

For some reason I really like the white cloud central to the image, floating above the church which is barely visibility in the pre-sunrise light.

And if you look to the right you can just see the famous white buildings of Santorini just being illuminated by the first light of a new day.

And lets not forget the island of Anafi just visibile on the horizon peeping out above the morning mist.

Most of all though it is the feeling of this photo that I like – it really is this dark on the Santorini Caldera before sunrise, and I don’t remember seeing that many sunrise photos that convey this mood and feel, which to me is natural and reminds me what it as like being there.

How did I decide on this composition?

I had been to this location the day before, and had a pretty good idea of the composition I was looking for.

I set up my camera in pretty much complete darkness, as the cloud cover completely blocked out the moonlight.

I composed using the viewfinder and Live View. Although I have to say I prefer the viewfinder when it is so dark as I find the LCD screen affects my vision – I get used to the darkness and my eyes adjust.

It was a case of framing the church and Anahi in the background – I knew where the sun would be rising and the clouds were changing so quickly I discounted them from my composition.

The two primary Elemis of this photo were the church and the rising sun.

Where was the photo taken?

On the top of the caldera near I N Ayiou Mapkou church, which is, and forgive me for repeating myself, one of my favorite places to see the sunrise in Santorini.

There is more than one photo taken from this location that is featured in the images on this website.

You can see the location on the screen shot from the Map Module in Lightroom. The orange tag with the number 5 is the actual location at which this photo was taken.

What time of day was the photo taken?


What photography gear did I use to get the shot

  • Canon 6D
  • Canon 17 – 40mm F4 L Lens (focal length used 17mm)
  • Manfrotto 190 Go tripod with geared head
  • Loupe Viewer
  • My thick red hat
  • Oakley sunglasses
  • Pepsi Max – althugh coffe would have been better
  • Red shoes with thin socks (cold feet today)

What camera settings did I use?

  • Aperture F16
  • Shutter speeds 1/320th second, 1/1250th second and 1/80th second.
  • ISO 400 to get the fast moving clouds. ISO 400 on the Canon 6D really isn’t a problem – the sensor can give a super clean image at this sensitivity. To be honest if I took a photo at ISO100 and the same picture at ISO400 you would struggle to tell the difference.
  • Back-button focus
  • AV Mode
  • 10 second self-timer
  • RAW format

I used F16 to get as much depth of field as possible. I only use F22 if I am super close to the foreground, or if I am trying to get a starburst effect – other than that the smallest aperture I will use is F16.

I mention this as the aperture is the only variable whan I am photographing a sunset. AV Mode means that the shutter is selected by the camera to match the chosen aperture. I will have set the ISO before shooting at a particular location.

One interesting fact about the image.

This is one of a series of images taken from the same spot with my camera mounted on my Manfrotto 190 Go tripod. I photographed the entire sunrise, and chose this photo.

Is there a behind the scenes video of this shoot?

Yes. And a photo taken on my iPhone of the actual set up and the view. Ignore the fact it is so bright – it wasn’t when the photo in this post was taken.

And here is the video.

How did I process the image?

This is another HDR shot, composed of three separate images. The first image os the correct exposure, the second image is 2 stops under exposed, and the third image is two stops over exposed.

The three images ar emerged together in Lightroom, creating a single new Dng file.

Here are the adjustment settings in Lightroom for this image.

Processing was done using the Basic and HSL panels. There are some other adjustments, but these are the same for every image, adn are applied on import to save me time and give me a consistent set of images.

In addition did localised dodging and burning to add to the highlight sand the shadows giving the image additional depth.

I finished the image in Photoshop removing blemishes, sensor dust spots and irritations in the foreground, bits of plants and twigs and stuff that detracted from the overall scene.

What could I have done to improve the image?

Being critical I could have come up with a different composition. I could have moved more to the right and done a much tighter shot of the church and the sunrise – that would have worked nicely.

That is not better, just an alternative point of view.

And I have chosen this image from a long sequence of images of that sunrise.

And what are my thoughts on this image?

I like it. It is not your run of the mill Santorini sunrise photo – it has darkness, mood and depth to it. I always try to create something a bit different, and also to convey the mood and feel of the place at that precise moment, which I think I have done here.

Sunrise can be a dark and sinister time, especially on top of a caldera on your own with the clouds flying by, the wind blowing over the top of the island and the sound of barking dogs in the distance!

And that is why I love being out and about on my own before sunrise – I am normally the only person inthat palce at that time.

Can you feel these things looking at this photo? This for me is a really good image for conveying that time and that moment, which is all I want to achieve with my photography.

Enough of me – what do you think of this image?

Let me know your thoughts on the photo of a Santorini sunrise – do you like it? Is it too dark? Do you like the composition?

One last thing

If you want to buy this image, or want to speak to me about future collaboration email me at sales@rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP – Photographer, writer, blogger


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