3 Quick Sunset Photography Tips

In today’s landscape photography photo tip, we will discover three more ways to get better sunset photography.

sunset landscape photography

“Biển Ke Ga” captured by Trandinhkhiem (Click image to see more from Trandinhkhiem.)

We’ve been discussing adding a “star” to your sunset photography. This will give your viewers somewhere to focus their attention. The pretty colors are not enough to generate contest winning photographs.

The last couple articles have focused on adding a person as the star, but the star can be anything. It could be some birds flying by, a silhouette of a pier, a palm tree, or even a particularly interesting cloud formation. It doesn’t much matter what you use, as long as you make your sunset photography about something.

Photo Tip #1: As far as settings go, always shoot in RAW format. Not JPEG.

Shooting in RAW format will gather a lot more visual information than JPEG. There are a lot of delicate colors in a sunset that just won’t get picked up in JPEG. Plus, shooting in RAW format makes it much easier to later make changes in Photoshop if you should so desire.

Photo Tip #2: Hang around for a while.

We all know to shoot a sunset photo as the sun is about to dip below the horizon. That is a classic and a given. But, hang around for a while. After the sun goes below the horizon you can still get some very nice shots. Actually, you can get great shots for as much as an hour after sunset.

Here is something many of you may not have heard before. About 20 to 25 minutes after the sun dips below the horizon, there is a “second” sunset when the colors in the sky are often even better than they were before the sun went down.

colorful sunset photography

“Binh Minh” captured by Trandinhkhiem (Click image to see more from Trandinhkhiem.)

Check it out. A lot of your favorite sunset photos will have been shot after the sun is below the horizon. It’s the colors from this “second” sunset they are after.

Photo Tip #3: Know when to shoot.

Now that we know what format to shoot with and when the best colors are likely to pop up, we need to know when to shoot so we can actually see something worth hanging on the wall.

A clear sky will NOT give you what you are looking for. To get the most stunning sunsets, you need clouds in the sky. If there are no clouds, you may as well stay home. But, not just any clouds!

A solid gray cloud cover just won’t do. You should be looking for broken cloud cover. Notably, you want light, wispy clouds. If it has been a rainy day, you are in for a treat! Often, the rain clouds will begin to break up around sunset and provide the ideal conditions. There are enough clouds to reflect all the gorgeous colors, but they’re broken up enough to provide visually interesting patterns.

sunset reflection photography

“Enjoying Little Things” captured by Nebojsa Novakovic (Click image to see more from Novakovic.)

I once heard a talk by a master salesman who said that no salesman should ever be at home on a rainy day, because that’s when all his prospective customers will be at home. We can change that slightly to read… No photographer should ever be at home on a rainy day, because that is when the best possible sunset photography presents itself.

There you have it: three more landscape photography photo tips that will give you better sunset photography.

Make a note of these landscape photography photo tips then get out there and start shooting! Shoot in RAW format and shoot as the sun is setting, but don’t leave too early. Stay for the second sunset and you will be richly rewarded. Never stay home on a rainy day–that’s the ideal time to be doing any sort of landscape photography, but particularly sunset photography.

About the Author:
Dan Eitreim writes for ontargetphototraining.com. He has been a professional photographer in Southern California for over 20 years. His philosophy is that learning photography is easy if you know a few tried and true strategies.

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