Everyone loves looking at gorgeous sunsets, which is why sunset photograhpy is so popular. 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 Camera and Your Eyes
It is harmful to your eyes and your camera’s image sensor to point your camera directly at the sun. Using an optical zoom or long lens will magnify the sun’s 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 eyes can easily see the brilliant yellows, oranges, magentas and blues of a sunset, the camera’s automatic white balance works to dull down the bright colors to make them look more 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 you’re using an SLR or DSLR or your camera has a color lens setting, try taking some pictures with the red filter.
- Using a compact camera that doesn’t have manual settings? The easiest solution is to set your camera 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 the above? Use Landscape mode or auto, and then use photo editing software to adjust the white balance to reflect the brilliant colors you saw.
- 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 photo, you need a remarkable 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.
- Allow yourself time to watch the sunset and wait for the really beautiful shots.
- Take your sunset photos from vantage points that give you a composition free of clutter, such as power lines and buildings (unless the building is serving as a focal point for 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 watch the sun set over the horizon and your pictures will have the colorful reflections from the water. Other great places are the prairie or the desert where you can see the horizon and have extra color from the dust in the air.
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 succeeding at sunset photography so start using these tips and you’ll be happily surprised at the beautiful sunset pictures you’ll capture.