6 Tips for Shooting Great Sunset Photos

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by gary_hendricks, Dec 20, 2004.

  1. Try these six tricks to capture powerful photos imbued with the beauty
    and positive feelings of sunsets.

    1. Get a Full View: Position yourself on a beach or a highpoint to
    allow an unrestricted view of the sun for maximum impact. An
    alternative is to capture the sun falling between trees, next to an
    attractive monument or reflecting off the water. Make sure your photo
    isn't too busy with other objects that distract attention.

    2. Keep Shooting: More attempts will increase your chances of getting
    the right results. As the sun gets lower, it tends to get redder as
    well, so your results should improve in the final moments of a sunset.

    3. Look for Clouds: Sunsets on cloudy evenings are more colorful and
    interesting than sunsets on clear evenings. While you may not actually
    capture the sun itself in these photos, capturing an amazing variety of
    colors and rich cloudy textures will make up for it.

    4. Shoot Off-Center: Bring more life to your sunset photos by
    positioning the horizon away from the center of your photo. Instead,
    keep it near the bottom of the shot to dramatically highlight the sky.
    In combination with this, leaving some foreground in the shot, such as
    a person or a tree, will give greater interest and give you a great
    opportunity to work on silhouette photographs.

    5. Use Multiple Exposure Settings: Your camera's light meter will often
    under-expose sunsets because there is still quite a bit of light, so
    bracketing (taking several shots at different exposures) may be needed
    to find the perfect exposure. A little under-exposure can help to make
    the colors of a sunset richer. If you want to include the details of a
    person in the foreground, try using fill flash and night mode. This
    will bring out their details while still allowing enough exposure to
    get rich colors - remember to use a tripod in this case to avoid
    camera shake.

    6 Zoom In: It is effective to use a long focal length for sunsets,
    because the sun will appear much larger and more impressive in the sky.
    Either choose the longest optical zoom lens setting on your camera or
    use a longer telephoto lens on your SLR.
    Best Regards,
    Gary Hendricks
    gary_hendricks, Dec 20, 2004
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  2. gary_hendricks

    ed Guest

    This is great Gary - thanks for sharing it with everyone. For me the
    absolutely most important thing is to take the camera off AWB and put it on
    daylight balanced. This is one reason why I like to shoot film and scan it.
    120 gives bigger scans, cheaper than 35mm (buying slide film for me anyway),
    and no automatic cyan (ala AWB =)

    ed, Dec 21, 2004
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  3. gary_hendricks

    Dr Fish Guest

    Thanks for the tips, we have had some nice sunsets here lately, so I shall
    be going out to try this.

    Dr Fish, Dec 21, 2004
  4. Gary,
    Good advice. But I disagree with part of point #5 in my experience.
    I find that sunset photos usually get overexposed. With digital,
    overexposure is the kiss of death for the image. It is better to
    underexpose. For example, this recent sunset shot in Hawaii:


    was done with a 300mm lens with -1.3 stops. The sun itself is
    still overexposed, but nothing else is. The ocean was dark on
    the original image, but a little curves work brought it into
    view. So, especially with digital, ensure critical parts of the
    scene are not overexposed and then bring up the shadows with
    curves/other tools. Check the histogram with each image to
    be sure you get it right so you can correct for the next frame
    if necessary.

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Dec 22, 2004
  5. 2. Keep Shooting: ...sun gets lower, it tends to get redder as well, so
    Best colour IMO is after the sun is down, maybe 15 mins after for the
    deepest reds...
    Just as the sun hits the horizon, I would meter a bright patch beside the
    sun then drop exposure around a stop for best colour. Once the sun is down,
    then as metered will usually give the best colour for me.
    Also may be worth considering use of a graduated ND filter if your subject
    will be below the horizon...
    Yes and no. Good for sun and sparse images, but shoot wide to get clouds,
    curvature and a wider range of colours/tones.


    Good conversation starter! Anyone else want to share some sunset pics?

    Cheers, Jason
    Folio: www.gadgetaus.com/photos
    The Gadget Shop, Dec 28, 2004
  6. absolutely most important thing is to take the camera off AWB and put it
    Good point, also setting a custom WB to say 7000K or balancing on a
    blue-cyan card or patch of sky will force an additional yellow-red cast to
    the image. 'White' balancing on a known colour card can be just as useful
    as using colour filters, and you don't get the corresponding light
    absorption of a filter, or the difficulty of focussing a strongly coloured

    For safety though, shoot raw and you can decide later anyway.

    Cheers, Jason
    Folio: www.gadgetaus.com/photos
    The Gadget Shop, Dec 28, 2004
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