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  • Jiri Kolar

Sunset photography

7 TIPS FOR THE PERFECT SHOT...



Hello everyone!

During evening strolls or idle nights watching the gleaming sunset, rich in warmth and color and full of promise is nothing short of incredible. Sunset photography is a favorite hobby for many as it captures the dramatic lighting, string shapes and rich colors of the sunset. However, capturing the magic of sunsets into a photo is not as easy as it seems. To capture the orange glow of the sun setting is a must in sunset photography and this is where the problem lies. You need to know how to set your camera right and most importantly, you should be very creative.  To find out how, read on.


Set your camera right.



You want to capture the sun’s glow but you still have to factor in the lighting of the place, the weather, clouds and other factors that may affect the quality of your photo. The good news is, you can set your camera to account for such conditions. The not-so-good news is, depending on auto settings, in this case, is out of the picture (no pun). Let me walk you through different camera settings for a stunning sunset photo.

White balance.

This is arguably the most important setting when it comes to sunset photography. The last thing you want is to dim the suns’ glow by setting too low or making the clouds too white by setting a high white balance. I usually recommend going for auto white balance settings as this will factor in all the lighting aspects of the area and do the balancing work for you.

However, there is nothing wrong with using manual white balance but be ready to take lots of experimental shots before getting it right.

ISO, Shutter speed and aperture

Since you are shooting directly towards the sun, your camera should have a fast shutter speed and a small aperture opening. This protects your image from being overexposed to light. You should always aim to underexpose the sunset because it will make the colors look more defined and richer making the scene more dramatic.

While still on the topic of exposure, keep your ISO low to avoid overexposing your image.


Scout the location.



Most people assume that since the sun sets in the west, taking a sunset photo is as easy as heading west. This might work for anyone seeking a simple sunset photo. If you want to compose your image a certain way, then, you must scout for a location. Beaches are great for taking sunset photos since you do not have many objects that are destructive in relation to the subject (the sun in this case).

You might also want to include the background in your photo such as a photo of the sun disappearing into the hills. My point is, don’t just pick a random scene and tart shooting, factor in the composition you want as well as the background (if any). This is done by looking for the best place to set up so as to shot from the perfect angle.


Get creative.



For you to stand out as a photographer and have to think out of the box. The same applies to sunset photography. Maybe you don’t want to stand out. Perhaps your satisfaction is in having a great sunset photo to hang on your wall. Still, a little creativity wouldn’t hurt.

To be different you could try to aiming for the high horizon when composing your photograph. The secret to getting a good photo when doing high horizon shots is making the foreground interesting so that it is the main focus. For sunset photography, this is ideal and works best when shooting over a body of water. Try capturing the reflection of the sun setting while capturing as little sky as possible. This is just an example of how to keep things interesting when taking a sunset photo. As I keep saying in my articles, there are no rules in photography just opportunities waiting to be discovered.


Silhouettes



Remember how I told you to be creative with sunset photos? Well, one way of doing this is by taking silhouette photos. There is no better way to take silhouette photos than when using the sun. The best part is that you can use anything as your subject such as people, trees, poles, flowers or even grass.

Just make sure that your subject is set against the sun for silhouettes to form and be sure to eliminate any distractions. When using people as your subject, you can pose them in unique postures to make your photo more unique.


Watch for Reflections.



Reflections are incredible subjects for sunset photography as they create stunning images. Always look for ways that you can reflect the sunset colors to make the photos feel rich and extremely interesting. For interesting reflections, place your bet on water bodies, particularly the ocean.


Find the perfect weather



Perfect weather is  essential if you want to have a perfect sunset photo. You definitely don’t want it raining when you are taking the photos or on an overcast day because it will ruin the quality of your photos. Many photographers prefer when the sky is a bit clear with a few clouds to add character to otherwise plain photos. The interesting cloud patterns make sunsets very unique as there are variations in cloud formation making each sunset special.


There is no shame in a little editing.



Nobody said that photography is only about taking pictures. Editing too, is part of good photography. Sometimes getting the perfect white balance for your sunset photo can be really challenging. Perhaps you into get the sun’s glow quite right. Whatever your photo is lacking, editing is a great way to fix this. There are apps like Snapseed that make some key adjustments to make your photos better. Using such apps, you can experiment with different brightness, ambiance, contrast and saturation to get the best combination. But, don’t forget, the Photoshop and the Lightroom are best ones for a professional editing.


Finally…

Every new day brings forth a new sunset photo waiting to be taken. Sunset photography is quite competitive and for this reason, you need to be more creative than ever. Using the right camera settings and improving in the creative ideas I have given you, you will be having a perfect shot in no time. Finally, be ready to take countless experimental shots before being able to get the right one. A little planning and scouting may help with this issue but none the less, bring some patience with you.



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