6 Tips for Taking Great Sunset Photos

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by gary_hendricks, Jan 9, 2005.

  1. Hi everyone

    Just thought I might share my experience on taking sunset pictures with
    this group. Hope it's useful - try these six tricks to capture powerful
    photos imbued with the beauty and positive feelings of sunsets.

    1. Always 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. Just 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. Be on the lookout 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. Try to 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.
    Gary Hendricks
    http://www.basic-digital-photography.com
     
    gary_hendricks, Jan 9, 2005
    #1
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  2. Jeez...let me print this out so I can take it with me next time.
     
    Randall Ainsworth, Jan 9, 2005
    #2
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  3. gary_hendricks

    Idoru Guest

    Gary, Thanks for sharing. Very interesting perspective.

    I.
     
    Idoru, Jan 10, 2005
    #3
  4. gary_hendricks

    Marvin Guest

    <snip>

    With a digicam, you can quickly find the right exposure. Use the manual exposure settings. Take a photo with whatever
    setting you think is right, look at the result on the LCD screen, adjust the setting. Once you get it, you can up the
    exposure time or the lens opening as the sunset goes along.

    You don't have to get the exposure exactly right. You can make adjustments with image editing software. I've found that
    darkening a somewhat over-exposed photo of a sunset can sometimes bring out cloud colors that you didn't see by eye.

    Never point the camera at a sun that is too bright to look at with your eye. You could ruin the sensor.
     
    Marvin, Jan 10, 2005
    #4
  5. gary_hendricks

    Ben Thomas Guest

    That would mean the sun has to be completely out of frame right, as in already
    below the horizon?

    --
    --
    Ben Thomas - Software Engineer - Melbourne, Australia

    My Digital World:
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    Disclaimer:
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    Ben Thomas, Jan 10, 2005
    #5
  6. Or out of the frame to the right or the left or up or down.
    Or behind a cloud, a bird, a kite, a tree, or some
    landscape feature, etc. I could keep going but you get the
    picture. (That was a pun!). With any camera, digital or
    film, pointing the camera at a bright sun has the potential
    for damage. Besides, it is usually the clouds or a
    partially blocked sun that your are interested in for a
    sunset photo.
     
    George E. Cawthon, Jan 11, 2005
    #6
  7. Like this?

    http://clarkvision.com/galleries/gallery.sunset/web/hawaiian.sunset.c12.10.2004.JZ3F2540a-600.html

    http://clarkvision.com/galleries/gallery.sunset/web/hawaiian.sunset.c12.12.2004.JZ3F3372b-600.html

    http://clarkvision.com/galleries/gallery.sunset/web/c101195_01_14-Hawaii-snst.html

    These violated at least one of the 6 tips.

    Roger
     
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Jan 11, 2005
    #7
  8. gary_hendricks

    adm Guest

    OK - so what about those "big orange ball" sunset photos where the sun seems
    to be meltinginto the sea (or whatever the horizon is) ??

    If the sun is the main object, then how do you deal with that ? Neutral
    density filter ? Severe underexposure ?
     
    adm, Jan 11, 2005
    #8
  9. (This is a repost as giganews seems to have dropped all my
    posts from last evening.)

    Like this?

    http://clarkvision.com/galleries/gallery.sunset/web/hawaiian.sunset.c12.10.2004.JZ3F2540a-600.html

    http://clarkvision.com/galleries/gallery.sunset/web/hawaiian.sunset.c12.12.2004.JZ3F3372b-600.html

    http://clarkvision.com/galleries/gallery.sunset/web/c101195_01_14-Hawaii-snst.html

    These violated at least one of the 6 tips.

    Roger
     
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Jan 11, 2005
    #9
  10. gary_hendricks

    Jürgen Eidt Guest

  11. gary_hendricks

    Owamanga Guest

    Agreed.

    Spoiled only due to the lack of naked young women.

    ...but I can say that about a lot of photos.
     
    Owamanga, Jan 11, 2005
    #11
  12. gary_hendricks

    JPS Guest

    In message <55JEd.15199$>,
    Any time that "the sun" is creating so much color that you want to shoot
    it, it is already weak from diffusion. the sun will only hurt your eyes
    or the sensor if it is high in a clear sky, and most people don't even
    think to photograph that.

    With an SLR or DSLR, the sun only passes through glass until the moment
    of exposure, which may be too short to damage the film or sensor.
    --
     
    JPS, Jan 11, 2005
    #12
  13. You did see where I said partially blocked, that could mean
    part of the ball or decreased intensity.

    Ask Clarke (see his beautiful pictures). Not really
    underexposure, (since the sun is likely to be overexposed
    but the the foreground is likely underexposure. My Nikon
    seems to capture pretty much what I wasn't if just left on
    automatic, but I also use the Sunset setting.

    My point about protecting the camera was, you may be able to
    point it even at a bright sun, but don't do it for very
    long. If you are waiting for the sun and clouds to be in a
    specific spot and your camera is on a tripod, you should
    probably have something in front of the lens until just
    before you shoot.
     
    George E. Cawthon, Jan 12, 2005
    #13
  14. Yep, those are great shots. I don't think too much of #1 is
    pretty much open to interpretation and not really
    restrictive the way it was written, and #6 zooming, may be
    effective but it gets tiresome. For years while everybody
    seemed to be chasing colors, I did nothing but B&W,
    preferring the gradients of grays to the garish display of
    colors that many seemed to like.
     
    George E. Cawthon, Jan 12, 2005
    #14
  15. gary_hendricks

    Paul H. Guest

    http://www.basic-digital-photography.com
    Here's another tip to add to the list:

    7) Wait at least until the sun is "past the yardarm" before setting up your
    tripod for sunset shots.

    If you set up to shoot sunsets at 6:00 a.m., for example, you'll have a
    long, boring wait and you'll likely have to pack a lunch.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Paul H., Jan 13, 2005
    #15
  16. gary_hendricks

    George Kerby Guest

    How 'bout this:
    Keep the horizon - horizontal!


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    George Kerby, Jan 14, 2005
    #16
  17. gary_hendricks

    Ben Thomas Guest

    Radical!

    --
    --
    Ben Thomas - Software Engineer - Melbourne, Australia

    My Digital World:
    Kodak DX6490, Canon i9950, Pioneer A05;
    Hitachi 37" HD plasma display, DGTEC 2000A,
    Denon 2800, H/K AVR4500, Whatmough Encore;
    Sony Ericsson K700i, Palm Tungsten T.

    Disclaimer:
    Opinions, conclusions, and other information in this message that do not
    relate to the official business of my employer shall be understood as neither
    given nor endorsed by it.
     
    Ben Thomas, Jan 16, 2005
    #17
  18. gary_hendricks

    stewy Guest

    Dunno about that. I've shot directly at the sun (-2 stops) and the sun
    didn't record as a ball but with the corona too. This can be very striking
    with clouds in shadow and highlighted. If you're afraid of the sensor
    getting fried, hang a small piece of rag over the lens and remove it for the
    5 seconds required to set the 2 second self-timer and shoot. I'm always
    shooting sunsets with a lightweight Velbon (800g) and a 2 second selftimer
    to eliminate the tripod shudder when clicking the release.
     
    stewy, Jan 18, 2005
    #18
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