How to photograph beautiful sunsets: Paris, France

How to photograph stunning sunsets

It is easy to photograph sunsets, they are already beautiful by nature. But there’s a difference between good photos and stunning images of a sunset.

How to photograph beautiful sunsets: Acapulco, Mexico
The sun setting behind a hill in Acapulco, Mexico

Find a focus point

There’s nothing more boring than just a picture of some nicely colored clouds. I mean, come on, anyone can take photos like that.

So, let’s take a look around and check if there’s anything between you and the sun that catches your attention. Maybe it’s a person, maybe a plane in the sky, maybe a boat on the water. Look for anything that makes your picture more interesting. And then try to play around with it. Just because something is your focus point, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the center of your photo – and neither does the sun have to be.

How to photograph beautiful sunsets: Maayafushi, Maledives
A water plane taking off in Maayafushi, Maledives

Create a silhouette

With the sun behind your object, you will see strong backlighting, which means that the object will appear rather dark and just as a silhouette.

How to photograph beautiful sunsets: Acapulco, Mexico
Acapulco, Mexico

In this case, that’s the desired effect. Now you have to make sure that your camera won’t ruin this moment. When you are in auto mode, there is a possibility that your camera will try to increase the brightness so your object in front becomes visible. There are a few tricks how to prevent that:

  • Most cameras nowadays have a special settig for sunsets. Active it and you are fine.
  • Manually adjust the exposure of the image. If you don’t know how to do this, keep reading.
  • If you are in auto mode, aim directly on the sun, press down the shutter button until the camera focuses, then move back to the object and press down the shutter button completely.
  • If your object isn’t too close, just switch on the flash. Thereby, you will make your camera believe that the flash will do the work of lighting up the scene and won’t automatically change other settings.
How to photograph beautiful sunsets: Acapulco, Mexico
Acapulco, Mexico

 Take another look around

It’s easy to get lost on the beauty of this huge fire ball right in front of you. But sometimes it’s best to turn your back on the sun. The setting sun will throw a beatiful light on everything around you. Maybe the best motive isn’t in front of you, it’s behind you.

How to photograph beautiful sunsets: Paris, France
The last rays of sunlight crawling over Paris, France

Hurry up!

It’s easy to get lost in the menus of your camera trying to find just the right setting for this image, but there’s nothing more aggravating than looking up from your camera and to realize that the moment has passed.

How to photograph beautiful sunsets: Maayafushi, Maledives
Maayafushi, Maledives

You will see that a sunset actually takes place faster than you might think. More importantly, everything around you changes as well. Maybe clouds disappear in minutes, maybe they suddenly block the sun, maybe your focus point moves away. The perfect moment can be over in split second. So when you can take the perfect shot, but your camera isn’t set up correctly, go for it anyway. I’ve missed too many good shots because I chose to configure my camera before taking it. Don’t do that. In post-editing you still improve your picture immensely, so nothing’s lost if the colors aren’t all right. A “bad” photo is always better than no photo at all.

How to photograph beautiful sunsets: Paris, France
Paris, France

Be ready for more

So far, we’ve just covered the basics. For now, you’re good to go and play around a little bit with your camera. You can check online when the sun sets in your city, so let’s get going.

In another article I’ll explain how you can techniques such as HDR to create even more stunning images of sunsets.

How to photograph beautiful sunsets: Paris, France
Paris, France in an HDR shot

Better ideas?

As always, I’m interested what you think. Let me know how my tips worked out for you or if you have made different experiences.

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One thought on “How to photograph stunning sunsets”

  1. What about using your photos, say the Paris, France in an HDR shot for a cover photo for Facebook? The page is named Harm’s End. I won’t post it until you tell me it’s fine to do so. Otherwise I’ll leave the generic one I have up now. Thanks.

    Like

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