Bite Size Tips: How to Photograph Amazing Sunsets


Sunset is one of those events that one cannot become bored witnessing. Am I right?

What's more, the beauty is that no two sunsets are ever the same.

Even with the vibrant and striking colors that sunsets offer, many a time photographers are disappointed by the images they capture as they do not have the colors or details that they actually witnessed during the sunset. But this can ALL be fixed!

Image from Pexels by Nuno Obey

Here are some quick tips on how you can improve your Sunset Photography.

Nail That Exposure 

When shooting directly into the sun, your exposure settings will often not let you capture the correct light and most of the time the picture will be over-exposed with loss in the details or colors.

You can either experiment with various aperture values and shutter speeds or use exposure compensation in aperture priority mode (as the light changes rapidly during sunset) or expose for the highlights in manual mode. Be sure to refer to your histogram to minimise highlight blowouts.

This will help bring the rich colors and details in the picture (but you may need to bring up the shadows in Lightroom).

Composition Wins Every Time

Composition depends on what you wish to capture. If you wish to capture a landscape with a beautiful sunset, you should shoot wide angle and if you want the sun to be the highlight of the image, then you should zoom in more.

It's always best to use a tripod to avoid having blurry images from camera shake.

While composing a landscape, make sure you have a foreground element or two to create a depth in the image and consider the rule of thirds while placing the horizon. (As seen in the image below).

Image from Pexels by Pok Rie

White Balance – Get the Temperature Spot on

During a sunset, setting the white balance to auto may add the risk of losing those warm vibrant colors in the sky. Shooting the sunset using the settings for cloudy or shade can warm up the image a bit giving you the golden tones of a sunset.

You can also experiment with other white balance settings if you are looking for a different mood in your sunset images.

Bonus Tip!

If you wish to create a beautiful starburst effect of the sun in your images, shoot at around f/22 and use a wider lens. Make sure that the lens is clean of dust and finger prints, oh and avoid filters as they can create a ghost image of the sun.

We hope you find these tips very useful, but this is just the beginning of how YOU can create those dreamy-looking sunset images. To get your sunset images looking like a pro's, be sure to check out Kent DuFault's amazing Landscape Photography Guide.

About Author

Dahlia is a stock photographer and full time educator at Light Stalking. You can find her on Gurushots and see some of her more popular articles at The American Society of Media Photographers. Get to know her better here.

Dahlia: Thank you for your work. It helps a lot. Question: I’m thinking of shooting the night sky, stars, milky way, etc. I live in Chicago (hard to see the night sky).

Do you have any suggestions on how to get started shooting the night?

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