Sunset photography can be tricky, as the light you’re working with is constantly changing based on time of day, time of year, and weather conditions.
This makes it necessary to have some guidelines to work with as you learn how to capture the perfect sunset shot. Enter Thomas Baskind, with 30 years of experience in nature and landscape design.
Here are five helpful tips from Tom!
- Location, Location, Location
The location for your shot can make or break a photo. Consider the time of day and how much light you have to work with. If you’re shooting at high noon, it’s not going to turn out well.
Wait until late in the evening when there is low light. This will create an ethereal feeling and provide a more dramatic sky.
Choose your foreground wisely. You want something that will complement the sky, not compete with it. A good rule of thumb is to use something warm (reds, oranges) against something cool (blue). Think about what colors are on each side of the horizon line and pick accordingly.
- Use a Tripod
Use a tripod to avoid blurry photos caused by handshakes. Be patient and wait for the right sunset moment when the colors are at their most vivid before pressing the shutter button. You can also use filters or post-processing software after taking your photo to create different effects.
- Use a Filter
You don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy cameras and lenses to capture a stunning sunset. A basic point-and-shoot camera will do the trick just fine, but if you’re looking for something a little more specialized, check out filters.
The great thing about filters is that they’re really easy to use – just attach it to your lens and voila! Instant sunsets!
If you want to get even fancier, try experimenting with color gels that are designed for specific types of light (such as sunrise or sunset).
- Adjust Your Settings
Adjust your camera settings to match the time of day and the weather. Adjust your shutter speed, aperture, or ISO to ensure that you are using the best settings for capturing a sunset.
Try different angles. Shoot down low on the water to capture its reflection; turn your back toward the sun and use trees as a backdrop; aim your lens straight at the sun to create an abstract image with bold colors and shapes.
- Shoot in RAW
Shoot in RAW format to ensure that you have all the information available for editing later. Use a tripod or place your camera on a stable object so that you can take your time setting up the perfect shot and make sure you get it right.
Hold the shutter open for at least 10 seconds to let in as much light as possible and take some photos of different exposures if you want. You can also use ND filters to help lengthen exposure times if necessary.
The more detailed your photo is, the better it will be. Find a location with a good foreground and great background.
Experiment with different shutter speeds and aperture settings, as well as play around with film types and color saturation levels to get different effects.
Practice shooting in manual mode first so that you can nail down the basic settings before switching over to auto mode and seeing what it does for your shots (auto might not always be the best option).
Remember to consult a professional nature and landscape photographer like Tom Baskind for assistance if you ever get stuck.