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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.