Finding The Best Sunrise In Kentucky

 Natural Bridge Park - Slade, Kentucky

Natural Bridge Park - Slade, Kentucky

Some photographs can only be taken by an expert with years of experience, and then there's plain dumb luck. The latter is how this photo was shot. We raced toward the Natural Bridge Park in Eastern Kentucky during the early morning hoping to see a nice sunrise, but we never expected anything like this. My friend went over to the edge, put his arms out, and I took the shot. This is really rare though, if you want to take a great sunrise shot every time, this is how to do it.

Wake Up Really Early

This part is really difficult for people like me, I'm not a morning person. This shot required waking up at 4:30am, driving nearly two hours, and hiking another hour in the cold. But the sun rose at exactly 7:30am and it was well worth it.

Settings Matter

No matter how good a cook you are, starting with rotten ingredients will affect the end-product. Pointing your camera at a sunrise and pressing a button won’t give you the results you’re looking for. On top of researching the exact time the sunrise will be, before you get there change your camera settings to look like these.

Shutter Speed (TV) = 10 or 20 seconds

Before the sun comes up, there’s no light to capture. A slower shutter speed will bring in more light to the photo.

ISO = 100

A low ISO will help boost color, and with the slowed-down shutter speed you'll be left with a good light balance.

File Type = RAW

If you’re going to be doing a lot of editing, go RAW, but if not just save the trouble and shoot normally.

White Balance = Shade

Optional, this just helps with the color.


You need to be focused on the shot from when the Sun first peeks to when it’s fully risen. Take as many photos as you can, if you look away you could miss the perfect moment. It’s a long process, but if you stay with it, you can get some breathtaking pictures.

These guys made the trip with me, trekking in the cold using only flashlights, almost getting lost along the way. We were nearly to the top when we saw the sun begin to peek out from behind the mountains. We started sprinting toward Lover’s Leap, a famous cliff in the park, and that’s where I took the photo.