May 22 2010

Sunset Photography 101

Published by at 8:13 am under General

It seems like everybody loves looking at beautiful sunsets, which is probably why sunset photography is such a competitive niche. Let’s look at some simple techniques that will help you to photograph truly stunning sunset images, the kind that stand out from the crowd.

Sunset Photography Rule #1: Protect your Eyes and Camera

It is harmful to your eyes and your camera’s image sensor to point your camera directly at the sun. Using a long lens or optical zoom will magnify the damaging effects. If you want to get a better picture (and play it safe), wait until the sun has fallen below the horizon or is a dark red color.

Sunset Photography Rule #2: Capture the Color

Ever run out the door to photograph a brilliant sunset but then after uploading to your computer wonder what happened to those saturated, bright hues? Usually the culprit is the camera’s automatic white balance. While your human eyes appreciate those brilliant sunset yellows, oranges, magentas and blues, the camera’s automatic white balance tries to correct them, to dull them down so that they appear “normal.”.The solutions are simple:

  • If you have manual settings on your camera, turn off the auto white balance and set the white balance to the warm side.
  • If your camera has a color lens setting or you are shooting with an SLR or DSLR, try some shots with the red filter selected or attached.
  • Using a compact that doesn’t offer these manual settings? Really simple solution here: set it to sunset mode. This works for sunrises too. Sunset mode automatically sets the white balance to keep its color balance warm. Sunset mode also helps the camera to automatically use the best focus and exposure (no flash) for this type of picture.
  • None of these apply to your camera? Use Landscape mode or automatic, and then use a photo editor to adjust the white balance to reflect the brilliant colors you know were there.
  • You may also want to experiment with different exposure settings or use your photo editor to darken or lighten. Be sure to make changes on copies, not the original!
  • Often a slower shutter speed will better capture the sunset; in this case, a tripod may be needed to steady your camera.

Sunset Photography Rule #3: Capture the Best Compositions

  • Use basic landscape photography techniques and patience to create stunning sunset pictures.
  • Not all sunsets will make great pictures. To get a remarkable sunset picture, you need an amazing sunset. Look for clouds, as they almost always make for more impressive sunsets. Sunsets with clouds are even more impressive over large bodies of water.
  • Give yourself time to watch the sunset and wait for the really amazing pictures.
  • Take your sunset photos in areas where you’re free from clutter or distractions like power lines and buildings (unless you intend to have the building as part of your photo).
  • Compose your pictures with something in the foreground like a palm tree or boat to give the image context and scale. The sunset will almost always create the silhouettes, thus adding more drama to your sunset photography.
  • If the sky is the most important part of the sunset, compose your photo so that 2/3 of it is filled with sky. If the reflection on water and silhouettes is the most captivating part of the pictures give this two thirds of your image’s real estate.
  • Go to the beach where you will find some of the best opportunities for sunset photos. Here you can see the sun setting over the horizon, and your pictures will also get the benefits of the colorful reflections off the water. Other good places include the desert and prairie where you also often can see the horizon and where the additional dust in the air adds to the color.

And once you take a sunset picture you love, make sure to display it a picture frame on your wall. Many sunset photos have stunning vistas that can look great framed in a panoramic picture frame or displayed in a picture frame and mat.

This is all you need for taking amazing sunset photos so start using these tips and you’ll be amazed at the beautiful sunsets you can capture.

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply