Sunset Photography: 10 Tips for Better Results

Sunset and sunrise: the two most commonly taken photos across the world. Tourists, amateurs, and even professionals patiently wait to take photos of the sunset or sunrise at major tourist destinations. However, you don’t want your image to end up like every other postcard shot, do you now? Photographer Rick Sammon shares 10 important tips to improve your sunset photos in the following video:

1. Remove filters from your lens

When shooting directly into the sun, filters can create a ghost image of the sun.

ghost sun due to filter

2. Expose for the highlights

By exposing for the brightest part of the scene, you will prevent the areas around the sun from being washed out. You can also use your camera’s highlight alert function to let you know whether you’ve clipped some highlights.

sunset image

3. Get a starburst effect

To get the starburst effect, use a wide angle lens at around f/22, and compose so that the sun just peeks out from behind an element in the scene.

starburst effect during sunset

4. Pay attention to the foreground and the sky

If the foreground is interesting, place the horizon near the top third of the frame. But if the sky is interesting, place the horizon line close to the bottom.

interesting sky during sunset

5. Take fun silhouettes

Sunsets are a great time to take silhouettes. Have the person look at a 90 degree angle away from the camera and expose for the highlights again. You will end up with dramatic silhouettes.

silhouette during sunset

6. Use a speedlight or flash for portraits

If you want the person in your photo to be recognizable rather than a silhouette, use a speedlight or flash at a power just high enough to light the subject. It makes a huge difference.

using flash during sunset portrait

7. Consider HDR

Sunsets can be a great time to take images using the High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique. However, use the technique with caution, as HDR is known to ruin the mood and feeling of a scene when used improperly.

hdr image during sunset

8. Take both horizontal and vertical photographs

You need to be quick while taking sunset photographs. If you can’t instantly decide which orientation looks best, take both horizontal and vertical photographs. You can then choose the best image at home.

portrait orientation image of sunset

9. Keep your lens clean

Dust particles and stains on the front element of the lens can introduce blobs and ghosting when shooting directly into the sun. Be sure to have a cloth handy to clean any dust or smudges.

dirty front element of lens

10. Use live view

Looking directly at the sun through the viewfinder for prolonged periods can damage your eyes. To be safe while photographing the sun, use live view.

Those were some easy to understand yet very effective tips. Be sure to practice them the next time you’re out for sunset photography.

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