Sunset Photography Tips: How to Photograph a Sunset Like A Pro?

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Sunset Photography Tips

Summer is the perfect time to shoot sunset. And although only the lazy does not shoot sunsets, only a few people get truly magical shots. In this article – we’ll discuss the sunset photography tips and what techniques will make your shots brighter, right now in our material.

Tip #1. Choose a Location in Advance

To understand where the sun will set (over the sea or over 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.

Tip #2. Check Out the Weather Forecast

The setting sun gives stunning light and color. It is better that the sky is not a “soft box” of clouds. Here it will be superfluous. Choose either light clouds or clear skies.

Tip #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

Sunset Photography Tips
Sunset Photography Tips

Tip #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.

Tip #5. Underexpose the Frame

Darkening the frame will make the colors richer and deeper. You can darken the frame in different ways: set negative exposure values, or decrease the shutter speed, or increase the aperture value – this can be done in priorities or in manual mode.

Tip #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.

Tip #7. Correct the White Balance

Select the Shadow mode for warm golden tones, even if the sunset is dull and unremarkable.

Tip #8. Shoot HDR

Shooting several frames with different exposures and then stitching these frames in Photoshop helps to achieve the extraordinary beauty of the sunset. When there is a lot of contrast in nature (a bright sunset sky and a 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 areas of the frame.

Tip #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.

Tip #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.

Tip #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 actually is. But when the sun has set below the horizon, the picture may appear brighter than it actually is. Therefore, it is better not to trust the screen, but to use the histogram.

Tip #12. Change Your Shooting Style

If you do 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.

Sunset Photography Tips for Stunning Photographs

Sunset Photography Tips
Sunset Photography Tips

Tip #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.

Tip #14. Level the Horizon

A photo of a sunset usually conveys calm and serenity, there is no place for a littered horizon. Therefore, use a dedicated tripod bubble level and use the bubble as a guide when placing the tripod on the ground.

Tip #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.

Tip #16. Take Off Your Glasses

Even if you have poor eyesight and wear dust-coated glasses for darkening. Otherwise, it will seem to you that the pictures are getting darker and darker, you will not be able to clearly set the exposure.

Tip #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.

Tip #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 side light that will draw volumes and help make a beautiful portrait in the rays of the setting sun.

Tip #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.

Tip #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 want to convey the scale and capture all the space in the frame, take a wide-angle lens.

Composition Tips for Sunset Photography

Sunset Photography Tips
Sunset Photography Tips

Tip #21. Don’t Place the Horizon Line in The Middle of The Frame

If the sunset is especially beautiful, 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.

Tip #22. Don’t Cut Off Your Head

When photographing people in front of a sunset, make sure that the horizon line is located in the chest or abdomen, but not along the person’s neck.

Tip #23. Don’t Get Hung Up on The Sun

You shouldn’t focus only on the sun, because there are so many interesting things happening at sunset! Look for cars, houses, shop windows, people, animals that can become the heroes of your sunset photos.

Tip #24. Create Volume with The Foreground

Just find something interesting and include the subject in the composition. Spikelet, flowers, or leaves in the foreground add depth to the frame.

Tip #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.

Tip #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 wonderful addition to the plot.

Tip #27. Keep Focus

Keep focus one third from the bottom of the frame. Don’t get carried away with focusing on the clouds.

Tip #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 scenes of life with warm, light and amazingly beautiful light.

Tip #29. Look for Reflections

Glass showcases, car windows, puddles – all this can give wonderful reflections. You can take advantage of the stationary mirror surface of the water for cool sunset photos.

Tip #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. Hope these sunset photography tips will help you in your photography journey. If you like this article, please share this article to social media for other photographers. Have sunset photography tips not mentioned here, share in comment section for other readers.