How To Photograph Sunsets

Very few photographers know exactly how to photograph sunsets, and this is indeed a very challenging and tricky task. That magical time of the day when the sky goes through unpredictable hues is hard to capture accurately on camera. Sunsets are also very spontaneous, and often you never know what type of sunset you should prepare for. There are those dusks that fire up the sky in bright red hues, and some that are darker and give deep blue and purple shades. Whichever type of scenes you aim to capture, here is a general guide to make sure you're well equipped and technically prepared to photograph sunsets.

Step 1: Prepare Your Tools

Make sure you have the correct lens and apparatus before you embark on your sunset quest. Do you want a wide-angle shot? Do you have to pack your fish-eye lens? Consider bringing some color filters if you have them, such as blue and magenta. These might help enhance the image you're about to take. Most importantly, pack your tripod. You'll be faced with a very tricky lighting situation, and you can't afford any camera shake or blur.

Step 2: Set up Your Modes

It's advisable to choose your camera's lowest ISO setting for the least image noise. This will result in a very crisp and sharp sunset picture. Mind your white balance setting. On Auto mode, your camera might try to balance out those fiery hues, resulting in watered down reds in your images. Try putting it in Shade mode or Cloudy mode, and test which one works best for you. Don't shoot in Auto exposure mode. Decide if you will shoot in Aperture priority, Shutter priority, or both.

Step 3: Bracket

When you shoot, make sure you play around with different exposure modes. You might want to go for a very long exposure to capture movement or register more light, or you may want to opt for a really low F-Stop for a smaller depth of field. Whatever exposure settings you choose, photograph sunsets over and below that mark. You might come out with really interesting images.

Step 4: Look Around

This is an important tip to all photographers, regardless of your subject. Be keen and observant about your surroundings, because you're sure to find an interesting subject. You could silhouette a figure or an object against the sunset, or there may be interesting cloud formations you'd want to capture. Maybe you're shooting the sunset near a body of water that's creating interesting reflections. Be sure that you do not miss anything in that sunset moment. Capturing other elements around the sunset is one of the keys to taking that perfect sunset picture.

Step 5: Experiment

Consider using filters in your shots. You can fire up the sky more with some red, or add in blues for a more subdued sunset shot. Take some panoramic shots, or try using a flash fill if you have a subject nearby. Take as many pictures as you can. This way, you can see which set-ups work best for you, and you're sure to come up with that perfect sunset photograph.

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