5 Tips for Better Sunset Photography

Let’s wrap up our discussion of sunset photography with some tips that don’t warrant their own articles but are still valuable additions to your shooting arsenal.

sunset photo birds

Photo by frank mckenna; ISO 800, f/4.5, 1/100s, 24mm.

1. Be Prepared

Sunset times vary. The time is dependent on where you live, the time of year, and so on.

The good news is there’s an app for that! And it’s free. Download a sunset times app so you can plan and be prepared.

You should shoot every sunset you can—at least until you’ve mastered all of the techniques we’ve been covering.

2. Keep Your Camera Level

We covered getting a level horizon in a previous article, but nowhere is it more important than in sunset photography. Use the leveling bubble on your camera or tripod to be sure. If you don’t have a level, go to the local hardware store and get one. They’re only a couple bucks and are well worth the cost.

sunset level

Photo by Joshua Earle; ISO 100, f/8.0, 8s, 24mm.

3. Compose Carefully

On the topic of horizons, make sure you don’t have the horizon line at the level of your subject’s neck (or their head). Cutting off a person’s head is never a good idea. Place the horizon either lower or higher.

Ideally, you do not want the horizon to intersect your model at all. If that’s not feasible, have it crossing at the stomach or legs.

It’s slightly off the topic of sunset photography horizons, but on the subject of background elements cutting into your models, watch out for tree branches sticking out of their heads, too.

4. Use Manual Mode

The sunset icon on your camera is nothing more than an automatic setting. Your camera will try to guess at what the best shutter speed and aperture combination should be.

We’ve previously talked about automatic settings—remember, your camera is a machine! It is not at all creative! It will not ever be a replacement for your creativity.

sunset hdr

photo by Doug Miller

Stay away from the sunset icon. Learn to shoot your sunsets on manual. That’s where the contest winners will come from!

5. Choose the Right Lens

If you want a large sun in your sunset photography, use a telephoto lens. If you want a smaller one, use a wide angle lens. Be extremely cautious when looking at the sun through your camera lenses. Lenses can magnify the light’s intensity and cause damage to your eyes!

Get yourself a free photo app so you can plan your sunset photos and get out there! Reading photo tips is all well and good, but you don’t learn just by reading. You have to actually get out there and shoot some sunsets. Or landscapes or portraits or whatever. It’s not hard. Try using these photo tips and you will quickly master sunset photography!

About the Author:
Dan Eitreim writes for OnTargetPhotoTraining. 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.

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

One response to “5 Tips for Better Sunset Photography”

  1. Michael says:

    Grat tips about the horizon,will make be think more about what I am trying to photograph.
    Using manual over auto is always good the hear, some of your suggestions on iso or aperture might be helpful for some of us who still look for help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever