Sunset Photography: Great Light & Great Color

This article is based on concepts from The Photoshop Essentials Course (currently 75% off) if you want to dig deeper for further training.

This little gold nugget was another light bulb moment in my photography journey.

You see, I love chasing a bright colourful sunrise and sunset as much as anyone and for many years I assumed that a bright red, orange sky equalled great light.

However, did you know that great light and great colour are two separate occurrences that rarely happen together.

Understanding the subtle difference will allow you to capture more photos with great light as well as great colour!

The Difference between great Light and Great Colour

It is actually very easy to explain,

Great Light tends to occur when the sun is just above the horizon. The hour before the sun sets, or the hour after the sun rises.

Where as great colour tends to occur when the sun is just below the horizon. Take a look at the example photos below, captured only a couple of minutes apart.

The first photo was captured with the sun just above the horizon and is an excellent example of Great Light. Notice the way the subject is bathed in golden light on one side and shadows on the other.

sunset light

Great Light

The second example below was captured with the sun below the horizon, notice the more intense colour in the sky, yet the very flat light on the subject. This is an example of Great Colour.

sunset color

Great Color

As covered in the Photoshop Essentials Course, we can combine the two in Photoshop and have the best of both worlds!

sunset light and color composite

Both Combined

Taking timelapse sequences or bracketed exposures is a great idea for this type of situation as the light changes through sunset. This gives you the option of merging these photos later if you like.

Take a look back at your own photos and see if you can pick the difference between great light and great colour. If you are lucky, occasionally you will get both at the same time, however, more often than not they are 2 separate occasions.

For Further Training, Offer Ending Soon:

If you are working on photo editing these days you may want to delve into the full in-depth course. We were able to negotiate a 75% discount for our readers which ends soon. Learn the Photoshop art of alchemy, the skills to transform the most ordinary of photos into extraordinary photographic masterpieces.

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Not only will this workflow bring out and enhance the breathtaking natural beauty of your photos, it will also give you the freedom to take your photos in any creative direction you choose.

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