Aspects of Great Sunset Photography

Whether you’re looking out your window, taking a stroll along the beach, or just visiting a far away place, a beautiful sunset can be captured anywhere. However, to shoot the perfect image you need to remember three important things: color, composition, and exposure. To help understand how these three aspects will aid in your photography, SLR Lounge shared this quick and insightful video:


As the sun lowers in the sky, an effect called “scattering” occurs. As the sun sets, each of the rays travel different distances. The further the distance they travel, the more atmospheric particles these rays will hit; and thus the different colors with the sky. The distance they they travel determines if the rays appear red, orange, blue, or violet. Therefore, if you’re looking for color, a good rule of thumb for sunsets is the longer you wait, the more vivacious the colors will appear. So in order to capture a truly breathtaking scene, you need patience (wait long enough for the colors you want to photograph) and the proper exposure.


One of the most important aspects of a great sunset image is the composition. As with any photograph, you need to consider your subject (the sunset) just as you would any other. For example, never place the subject or horizon line directly in the center of your image (also known as bullseyeing). To help balance out your composition and add interest to your final image, try using the rule of thirds, symmetry, leading lines, or various other compositional theories.

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Try playing around with slower shutter speeds to add some cool effects.


The sun’s location determines how to modify your exposure. Remember, the higher the sun is in the sky, the brighter it will be. To help ensure you use the correct exposure, use your camera’s histogram, which demonstrates the overall luminosity of your image. With the left side of the histogram representing the shadows, the middle symbolizing the midtones, and the right side showing the highlights, using the peaks of the histogram helps you to determine the overall tonal range.

What other tips do you have for photographing the sunset?

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