eleven Sunset Photography Tips for Attractive Results

11 Sunset Photography Tips for Beautiful Outcomes

sunset photography tips for beautiful results

If you’re looking to do gorgeous sunset digital photography, then you’ve come to the best place.

Because in this article, I’m sharing 11 simple tips which will instantly improve your sunset pictures.

Specifically, I’m going to explain:

  • How to capture beautiful sunset tones consistently
  • How to make balanced, pro-level sunset compositions
  • The best type of weather for sunset photos
  • Much more!

Ready to become a sunset photography master?

Let’s dive right in.

1 . To find the best shots, plan ahead

While you can sometimes catch beautiful sunset shots without any forethought…

…the best shots usually originate from real planning .

So scope out areas that might be good for sunsets the afternoon or two before your shoot. Look for interesting places – locations where you can photo the sun all the way down to the horizon, and where there will be opportunities for shots including foreground elements and silhouettes.

Sunsets only take a few minutes, which is why you wish to think about these elements before the sunset begins. Or else, you might miss the best photos.

Find out when the sun will set, then arrive at least half an hour beforehand. It’s often in the lead up to a sunset how the real magic happens.

And keep an eye fixed on the weather. There are a variety various types of sunsets that create a range of different types of lights and patterns in the sky. Don’t simply head out on clear days, because while these can produce some wonderful colors, it’s usually the days with (partial) clouds when the real actions happens.

(Also, dust and smoke cigarettes in the air can produce amazing outcomes, too. )

Consider the equipment you might need. Have a tripod, lenses with a selection of focal lengths, and extra batteries.

That way, once the sky turns beautiful, you will be ready!

sunset photography tips dock with boat

2 . Shoot at a selection of focal lengths

Most sunsets are photographed with wide-angle lenses , and these central lengths may make for gorgeous images. A lens in the 10-30mm range will give you sweeping shots of your sunset picture.

Nevertheless , if you want the sun itself to be a main feature of the shot, you’ll need to zoom right in. The sun is just fifty percent a degree across, so when a person shoot with a wide-angle lens, the sun will be tiny within the frame. If you want to highlight the sun, you’ll need to zoom in with a 200mm lens or even longer.

(This, in turn, will increase your requirement for a tripod! )

Also, be hyper-aware of eye-safety concerns: looking at the sun is always harmful. And it’s even more dangerous when you look at it through a telephoto lens. So if you do include the sun in your composition, never look through your camera’s optical viewfinder. Instead, use Live View to check your own composition and exposure for the rear LCD.

(If you use the mirrorless camera, this won’t be an issue. You can properly look at the sun through the electronic viewfinder . )

sunset over a misty valley

3. Use the rule associated with thirds to improve your sunset photography compositions

The guideline of thirds states that you should position key elements of your scene a third of the method into the frame .

So instead of putting the horizon in the center of the composition, put it toward the top or the bottom, like this:

tree at sunset

Do you see how the horizon is a 3rd of the way up in the bottom? That’s what the guideline of thirds suggests.

And it’s not just about horizons. You can also use the rule of thirds to put the sun, foreground elements, history elements, you name it.

Of course , the particular rule of thirds isn’t a requirement. And you can break the rule associated with thirds for stunning results in certain situations.

But in general, the guideline of thirds is a great starting point – so unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, I actually highly recommend you follow it!

4. Experiment with different exposures (to achieve a magical result)

Very first things first:

When doing sunset digital photography, you should consistently shoot using a semi-automatic or Manual mode . Do not let your camera dictate your settings for you (in other words: get off Car mode immediately! ).

So before starting the sunset shoot, switch your camera over to Aperture Priority mode, Shutter Priority mode, or Manual mode.

And don’t just take one shot in one exposure. Instead, take a variety of shots at various exposures.

So while you can get a “standard” exposure based on your own camera’s recommendation…

…don’t be afraid to underexpose by raising your shutter speed or narrowing your own aperture. And don’t be afraid to overexpose by doing the contrary.

silhouetted skyline

The great thing about sunsets is the fact that there is no one “right” direct exposure. You can get stunning results along with underexposure plus overexposure; the main element is to experiment.

(Personally, I often start with a relatively quick shutter speed, then slowly function down to slower shutter rates of speed for brighter, more luminous shots. )

5. Bracket frequently

In the previous tip, I talked about experimenting with various exposures.

But did you know that there’s a technique, known as bracketing , that manuals you in your exposure testing?

Here’s exactly how it works:

Very first, take a photo using your camera’s suggested settings.

Then adjust the particular settings (either manually or even via direct exposure compensation ) in order to slightly underexpose the photograph and then to slightly overexpose the photo.

So if your camera says to shoot in f/8, you would take your very first shot at f/8, as recommended. But your second chance would be at f/5. 6, and your third shot would be at f/11.

That way, you’d end up with the “standard” shot, a darker shot, and a brighter chance, all of which will give you different colors plus effects.

It’s a good way to guide your testing, and it’s also a great way to create “insurance” photos – so that, if you overexpose the shot on accident, you still have a darker file on your own memory card.

Make sense?

sunset photography tips sunbeams

6. Auto Exposure Lock is your friend

Bracketing can be a lot of enjoyable, but it also takes time – and it’s not the most exact way to create a well-exposed image.

That’s where Auto Exposure Lock (AEL) comes in handy.

Using AEL is simple. First, you stage your camera at the area of the scene you want perfectly uncovered, such as a beautiful foreground function.

After that lock the exposure.

Finally, reframe the picture (while maintaining the exposure lock).

Basically, it lets you determine the exposure without interference from the ultra-bright sunset, which can wreak havoc on the camera’s meter.

Also note that you can use Auto Exposure Lock to produce beautiful silhouettes; just point your camera at the best part of the sky, lock the exposure, and then reframe using a foreground subject. The result will look like this:

horse silhouette

Cool, right?

7. For the best colors, log off Auto White Balance

Your white balance setting adjusts the temperature of the colors in your picture.

Therefore depending on the white balance, you’ll end up with a cooler (bluer) photo or a warmer (redder) photo.

Once the white balance is set in order to Auto, your camera can automatically deal with the color heat range. And while this can sometimes work, it often gives subpar results – where you lose the warm golden tones of your sunset.

Therefore instead of using Auto White Balance, switch your camera to the Cloudy or Color presets, which will warm things up a little.

Alternatively, if you’re shooting the sunset and you do need cooler, moody shot, you are able to experiment with other white stability settings, such as Incandescent.

One more thing:

If you shoot in NATURAL, it’s true that you can consistently tweak the white stability during post-processing. However , this is often pretty inconvenient; after all, just how much time do you want to spend adjusting the white balance before your computer?

Which explains why it’s worth getting the white-colored balance right in-camera.

8. Always bring a tripod for the sharpest results

Should you be shooting at longer shutter speeds, such as 1/60s and beyond, then a tripod makes a huge difference.

It’ll keep your camera stable – so that your documents remain tack sharp.

When you’re away doing sunset photography, you don’t need to start the particular shoot with a tripod, because the minutes leading up to a sunset bring plenty of light.

But because the sun sinks on the horizon, the tripod will become more and more necessary. (And by the time the sun is fully gone, a tripod will be completely essential. )

Note that you might want to use a tripod for your whole photoshoot, specifically if you plan to capture long exposures that feature moving water, like this one:

long exposure sunset photography

What if you don’t have a tripod? Or you forget to bring one?

In such cases, I suggest you stabilize your digital camera against an object. You can use it the hood of a vehicle, or you can just set this on the ground; whatever allows you to reduce movement as much as possible.

9. Don’t be afraid to focus manually

We all love autofocus – but occasionally, when shooting in severe lighting conditions, autofocus simply won’t get the job done. Your zoom lens will hunt all around, and the shot will end up out of focus.

That’s exactly where manual focus comes in convenient.

At this point, not all lenses support guide focus. Some only permit autofocusing, in which case you’re away from luck.

But many lenses do let you focus manually (and you can generally activate manual focus by pushing the AF/MF switch on the lens barrel to MF ).

So when your lens starts to hunt, don’t fret; simply swap over to manual concentrate and keep shooting!

10. Shoot more than just the particular sunset

Here’s one of the many wonderful things about sunsets:

They don’t just create wonderful colors in the sky; they also cast an attractive golden light that is great to get other types of photography!

So as the sun progresses, keep an eye on other photo taking opportunities around you. For instance, you are able to capture portrait, landscape, or macro shots. In the light of the setting sun, it’ll all turn out amazing!

portrait silhouette with sunstar

11. Keep shooting (even after the sun is gone)

A sunset constantly changes over time – which means that each additional minute is an opportunity for a different shot.

So don’t take a few shots and call it up an evening. Instead, stick around and photograph the sun as it falls. You can continue to capture the same composition, or you can test out different compositions; the key is to maintain your camera out and your finger on the shutter button.

Also be sure to capture different exposures (bracket! ) and consider dealing with different focal lengths, because I’ve discussed above.

And finally:

Don’t pack up when the sun is gone. The period after the sun has disappeared – called the azure hour – can be great for photography, too, thanks to its beautiful colours and ethereal light. So if you still have the energy, keep acquiring compositions until the colors possess vanished completely from the horizon.

sunset photography tips

Sunset photography tips: conclusion

Now that you know these guidelines, you’re well on your way to recording some stunning sunset digital photography of your own.

So the next time the sun starts to obtain low in the sky…

…grab your digital camera and head outside!

Amazing images watch for.

Now over to you:

Which of these sunset pictures tips is your favorite? Will you use any of them the next time you photograph a sun? Share your thoughts (and sunset photos) in the comments beneath!

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

I need help with…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.