How to take the perfect Sunset (7 Tips)
Updated: Jul 22, 2020
Everyone has seen them. Pictures of sunsets rich with colour and warmth. Whether you're on a beach or looking out your window, there's no denying that sunsets are a beautiful sight.
With these tips, you'll know how to turn that beautiful sight into a stunning photograph.
1. Go out early
You never know when the best lighting will show up. It could be 15 minutes before or after the sun sets but if you're unlucky you probably won't find out until after.
It would be best practice to go to the location about half an hour or 45 minutes before the sun is supposed to set. That way you'll have enough time to find the perfect spot and set up.
2. Use a Tripod
Tripods are handy tools for any sort of photography. Sunsets are no exception. You want the image to be perfectly framed and as sharp as possible to capture those rich colours.
To add to that, put your camera on a timer. When you click the shutter on a camera it tends to wobble a bit. Put your camera on a timer so it's perfectly still by the time the photo is taken.
3. Identify Foreground Elements
It's tempting to just take photos of the sky for those rich colours. However this by itself does not produce meaningful composition. For this you need to find something to add to the foreground, like a tree, a beach, bushes etc.
This will give the image more depth and it will draw a persons attention.
4. Use Aperture Priority mode
You may have heard that the best way to take a sunset is by using manual mode but that simply isn't true. Light conditions are always changing, and it might be a pain to have to constantly change the settings around, especially if you're a beginner.
With aperture priority, you can set the aperture to whatever you want while the camera sets the shutter speed for you. You can also set the ISO on automatic if you haven't fully figured it out but there is another thing you should pay attention to.
5. Use Exposure Compensation
Modern cameras are great for certain lighting conditions but they can be easily tricked. If you're shooting directly into the sun, the cameras sensor can be tricked into thinking the scene is brighter than it actually is. This will make the image itself look very underexposed.
However, a slightly underexposed photo will make the colours more dramatic and bold, even if the foreground looks dark. It really depends on how you want your image to look.
If you want your picture to look brighter, you can always turn the exposure compensation up.
6. Positioning the Horizon
Knowing how to position the horizon in the photo is very important for sunset photography. If you're stuck, just ask yourself one simple question.
Is the sky interesting?
If the answer is yes, position the horizon in the lower third of the picture. That way, you can capture as much of the sky as possible, making for an interesting and eye capturing picture.
If the answer is no, position the horizon in the horizon higher in the image. That way you can emphasize the importance of whatever you choose to be your subject, and it will draw attention away from the lackluster sky.
7. Stick around after the sun sets
Sometimes the sky will look more colourful after the sun sets. This is a small window opportunity for you to take an even better photo than what you were planning. Stay out for about half an hour after the sun dips below the horizon for this to happen.
There you have it, 7 tips to take the perfect sunset. Remember that this will take practice but you'll get better the more you do it.
So get out there, get practicing and have fun.