How to take Sunset Pictures

You have your camera, you have your lens, and before you, you have a wonderful sun setting over the horizon. The first thing you must always do when taking sunset photographs is to make sure you have full view of the scene. If you can, take up a high vantage point, which will give you an overall view of everything before your eyes, from near distance to far distance.

Using Frames

There are many different ways to take sunset photographs, not just your standard sun going down scene. Try to be creative when taking sunset pictures. If you can, use any form of water, for example, a pond, or river to catch the sun’s reflection off the water. Also, a creative photographer will use other bits and pieces of the scenery around him or her.

You will quite often find, when looking at sunset pictures that trees are often used as a kind of ‘frame’ to frame the sun. When taking sunset pictures you can – as well as using trees as a frame – use clouds too. Clouds make a great frame for the setting sun and, when used correctly, can enhance any sunset picture.

When using any object such as branches and leaves as a frame, a shallow depth of field comes in handy here, where the leaves in the foreground will be slightly out of focus, while the main scene – the sun – will be sharply in focus. This gives the impression of a subtle, otherworldly and enhanced feel to the picture.

Shutter Speeds and Apertures

When taking sunset pictures always take a series of them, using different combinations of shutter speed and aperture settings. Write the shutter speed and aperture down in your notepad, {or, as most modern-day cameras now have a facility in which the shutter speed and aperture is stored on the picture you take} save them there. If the picture is too dark, than overexpose it to allow more light in. Vice versa if the picture is too light, just underexpose to bring out the detail.

One tip when taking sunset pictures is never point your camera directly at the sun. This is an error that many people make. The result of this error is that not only will you ruin your camera, but your eyes too and you will be blinded for life. Always point the camera a little way off from the sun itself.

With most camera settings having their own built in light meters, take a light meter reading from the clouds. From the resulting aperture and shutter speed that your camera recommends, always go maybe one or two stops under or over either side. A good lens to have with you when taking sunset pictures is a telephoto zoom lens. You might want to make the sun look larger and give it more prominence in your picture, this is where your telephoto zoom comes in handy. But saying that, you might be a landscape photographer, in which case you would probably use a wide angle lens to bring in not just the expanse of the sun and sky, but the surrounding land too.

Act Quickly

When taking sunset pictures you must always be fairly quick, as the surrounding light changes by the second. Steady your camera on a tripod and always use, if you can, an extension lead to trigger off your shutter. without physically touching your camera, as you may cause camera shake.

To Sum Up:

Sunset Pictures are beautiful, when done properly. Like anything, it is trial and error before you are satisfied with your pictures. The Sun does not have to be dead centre in your photograph, as many seasoned photographers place the sun, at the bottom of the frame to bring out the highlights in the sky. Or, sometimes, you may find that a subject that you focus on in the foreground will suddenly become a silhouette. This is fine, and there have been many beautiful sunset pictures in which the foreground objects were thrown into silhouette. It is up to you to experiment.

One more thing when taking sunset pictures is, as I have mentioned, that the light can be tricky to gauge. In other words it can be hard for you to judge at what correct shutter speed and aperture you should set your camera too. Again, there is no hard or fast rule to this, but rather, experiment. Bracket your apertures and shutter speeds and write them down. You will find that using different combinations of shutter and aperture will bring you different results.

Last, but not least, you must be quick, as the light changes instantly, and you will only have a short window (time frame) to enable you to capture that perfect sunset. So, good luck, and I hope that this short article will help all those who want to take beautiful sunset pictures for themselves.