Ever looked at a beautiful sunset and then taken out your camera only to see that the photos becomes less colorful than what you experience?
In this article I will provide you with some tips that will make your next sunset photos look great!
The photos in this article is all from the same sunset at Lindesnes Lighthouse, the southern tip of Norway.
While sometimes wonderful sunset shots can be taken spontaneously, it’s often the case that the best ones come out of planning.
Find out when the sun will set and get there at least half an hour beforehand as it’s often in the lead up to and the time after the sun appears or disappears that the real magic happens.
Sunsets only take half an hour or so, so you want to think about these elements before they start or you might miss the shots you’re after.
Look for interesting places where there will be opportunities for shots that include foreground elements and silhouettes.
- Keep an eye on the weather:
There are a variety of different types of sunsets that produce a range of different types of lights and patterns in the sky. Of course you can take sunset photos when there is a clear sky, the colors can be quite stunning, but try to go out and take sunset photos when there is cloud around. The results is often unique and colorful.
If you’re shooting at longer shutters speeds and with longer focal lengths, then a tripod or some other way of ensuring that your camera is completely still, is essential to get clear quality photos. Include a tripod in your photography gear, you can also bring lenses that will give you a range of focal lengths, and remember extra batteries.
- Composition Techniques:
Shoot at a variety of focal lengths – wide angle can create sweeping landscape shots but if you want the sun itself to be a feature of the shot you’ll want to be able to zoom right in so the sunset becomes the main focus of your photos.
- Exposure Techniques:
Instead of relying upon the camera’s auto mode a sunset is an ideal time to switch your camera into aperture or shutter priority mode and to take a variety of shots at different exposures.
If you let your camera decide what shutter length to shoot at you can quickly get a shot that doesn’t really capture the beauty of the light. Quite often the shot will be under exposed because the sky is still reasonably light. If you do not want to set the camera settings manually, most DSLR cameras and mobile phones has a feature where you can select a sunset preset for your camera. Experiment –
the great thing about sunsets is that there is no one ‘right’ exposure and that you can get stunning results using a variety of them.
- Manual Focus:
Sometimes when shooting in extreme lighting conditions some cameras can have trouble focussing and the photos comes out blurry. If this is the case for your camera switch to manual focus to ensure you get nice crisp shots.
- Turn around during the sunset:
The wonderful thing about sunsets is that they not only create vivid colors in the sky but they also can cast a beautiful golden light that is a treat for other types of photography. Turn around as the sunset progresses and keep an eye on other opportunities behind you for great photos. You might suddenly spot an opportunity for a portrait, landscape shot or even a macro shot behind you in the golden light. A sunset constantly changes over time and can produce fantastic colors well after the sun goes down so keep taking photos until it is over.
Enjoy your next sunset photography session!
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