Summer is the perfect time to shoot sunset. And although only the lazy do not shoot sunsets, only a few people get genuinely magical shots. This article will discuss the sunset photography tips and what techniques will make your photos brighter right now.
1. Choose a Location in Advance
To understand where the sun will set (over the sea or the mountains), you need to come to the place the day before shooting. But if this is a self-guided tour, and you are driving to places that you have never been before, you can use the sun-surveyor website, which shows how the sun moves around the globe and at each specific point on the earth.
Arrive at the location a couple of hours before shooting to find a good shooting point and set up your tripod even before the sun sets over the horizon.
2. Check Out the Weather Forecast
The setting sun gives stunning light and color. It is better to understand that the sky is not a soft box of clouds. Here it will be superfluous. Choose either light clouds or clear skies.
3. Clean Up the Camera & Equipment
Wipe down the lens and make sure there are no drips or dust particles left on the lens, which can make post-processing a nightmare or even negate all efforts to create a masterpiece.
Camera & Equipment Settings
4. Cover the Diaphragm
Using the maximum aperture values (such as f/22 or f/32) will give you crisp beams and a star effect. There will be exactly as many beams as there are blades in the diaphragm of your lens.
5. Underexpose the Frame
Darkening the frame will make the colors richer and more profound. You can darken the frame in different ways: set negative exposure values, decrease the shutter speed, or increase the aperture value – this can be done in priorities or manual mode.
6. Switch Modes
When the sun is still in the sky, shoot in aperture priority mode, compensating for the exposure. And when the sun goes down, switch to manual mode, as the built-in exposure meter does not always work correctly in low light conditions.
7. Correct the White Balance
Select the Shadow mode for warm golden tones, even if the sunset is dull and unremarkable.
8. Shoot in HDR
Shooting several frames with different exposures and then stitching these frames in Photoshop helps achieve the sunset’s extraordinary beauty. When there is a lot of contrast in nature (a bright sunset sky and dull earth), the camera does not understand how to display the image correctly.
By setting the exposure first in the sky, and then on land or water, and then gluing these frames, you can get a rich landscape with equally well-developed frame areas.
9. Use RAW Format
Unlike JPEG, RAW forgives you minor mistakes that can still be corrected during processing. True, it will take time to fix them. But if you shoot in JPEG, you will no longer have a chance to stretch colors and remove noise.
10. Do Not Raise Your ISO
At sunset, the light becomes less than at noon, but this is not a reason to increase the sensitivity above 800. Otherwise, digital noise will appear in the photo, which will be difficult to correct in the editor if you did not shoot in RAW. However, this does not apply to professional cameras with full-format sensors, which do an excellent job with noise even at ISO 3200.
11. Use a Histogram
Different lighting conditions must be taken into account. When the sun is shining brightly, the image on the camera screen may appear darker than it is. But when the sun has set below the horizon, the picture may appear brighter than it is. Therefore, it is better not to trust the screen but to use the histogram.
12. Change Your Shooting Style
If you shoot in JPEG format, you must use the picture style (Canon) or picture control (Nikon) landscape shooting mode. It will allow you to get brighter, more contrasting, and saturated images.
13. Use a Tripod
If you want to use a slower shutter speed to capture the movement of the water or let more light into the camera’s sensor, you need a tripod. It is better to shoot sunset landscapes with a tripod.
14. Level the Horizon
A sunset photo usually conveys calm and serenity; there is no place for a littered horizon. Therefore, use a dedicated tripod bubble level and use the bubble to guide when placing the tripod on the ground.
15. Do Not Use Filters
A polarizing filter will not help saturate sunset colors. Remove even UV filters because an extra flat, even super thin piece of glass reduces saturation. When photographing a sunset, this is unacceptable.
16. Take Off Your Glasses
Even if you have poor eyesight and wear dust-coated glasses for darkening, otherwise, it will seem that the pictures are getting darker and darker, you will not be able to set the exposure.
17. Grab a Reflector
To shoot a portrait against a sunset, you will need to highlight your face. This can be done with a reflector to prevent the face from falling into shadow.
18. Use a Camera Flash with A Synchronizer
The built-in flash is not worth using so as not to kill the volume in the frame. Therefore, when shooting a portrait at sunset, it is best to remove the flash from the camera and insert a synchronizer into the hot shoe. Then you can use the flash as a sidelight that will draw volumes and help make a beautiful portrait in the rays of the setting sun.
19. Take a Portable Light
An additional source of constant light will help illuminate the model as the sun sets below the horizon. This is not a must-have at sunset, but in cloudy weather, as you find it.
20. Use a Variety of Lenses
If you want the sun and all objects in its rays to be large, use a telephoto lens. If you’re going to convey the scale and capture all the space in the frame, take a wide-angle lens.
Composition Tips for Sunset Photography
21. Don’t Place the Horizon Line in The Middle of The Frame
If the sunset is magnificent, give the sky two-thirds of the frame, and if there is not enough color, then place the horizon in the upper third, giving more attention to the ground.
22. Don’t Cut Off Your Head
When photographing people in front of a sunset, ensure that the horizon line is located in the chest or abdomen but not along the person’s neck.
23. Don’t Get Hung Up on The Sun
You shouldn’t focus only on the sun because many exciting things happen at sunset! Look for cars, houses, shop windows, people, animals that can become the heroes of your sunset photos.
24. Create Volume with The Foreground
Just find something interesting and include the subject in the composition. Spikelets, flowers, or leaves in the foreground add depth to the frame.
25. Create Silhouettes in The Foreground
A good silhouette will work if the plot elements have a recognizable shape. Just make sure that the black silhouette does not take up too much of the frame.
26. Wait for Suitable Clouds
Partly cloudy skies are ideal for sunset photography. The clouds in the sky will be illuminated by the rays of the setting sun and will serve as a beautiful addition to the plot.
27. Keep Focus
Keep focus one-third from the bottom of the frame. Don’t get carried away with focusing on the clouds.
28. Look Around
Sometimes the landscape behind it can be better than the sunset itself. But it’s easy to miss because photographers are usually too busy setting the sun. The good thing about the sunset is that it colors everyday life scenes with warm, light, and wonderful light.
29. Look for Reflections
Glass showcases, car windows, puddles – all this can give beautiful reflections. You can take advantage of the stationary mirror surface of the water for fantastic sunset photos.
30. Do Not Hurry
After the sun disappears behind the horizon, the sky lights up again with bright colors. Photographers consider these moments to be the most beautiful sunset moments.
You may also like to read: 5 Tips to Avoid Having An Overcast Sky for Landscape Photography
These were 30 sunset photography tips that will lead you to take stunning sunset photographs. I hope these sunset photography tips will help you in your photography journey. If you like this article, please share this article on social media with other photographers. Have sunset photography tips not mentioned here; share in the comment section for other readers.