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How to Get Magnificent Shots of the Sunset

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

A sunset is one of the most awe-inspiring things you can photograph. Magnificent colors light up the sky and cast a vibrant effect on everything around it.

But if you take a picture of the sunset and look at it later, you’ll notice that it may not offer the terrific view you saw in real life…unless you use the right equipment and techniques.

If you are thinking of taking shots of the sunset, here are some tips that will help you get the look you are after.

Do Some Research

A sunset only lasts a few minutes. Therefore, you won’t want to waste any time finding the right location or rustling around for the gear you need. Make sure to have that all planned out in advance.

You will also want to pick the perfect time a day to shoot. Find out when the sun will be setting in your area and don’t be late!

Use the Right Lens

Most sunsets are taken with wide angle lenses that make it easy to get those spanning shots. However, you may want to zoom in for a few. Make sure to have the gear that allows you to do both.

Mama Told Me Never Look into the Eyes of the Sun

If you remember what your mama told you, you’ll know that looking into the sun can be dangerous. It’s even more dangerous if you look at the sun through a telephoto lens.

For safety’s sake, you are best off looking at the sun through your live view and checking composition through the LCD. If you have a mirrorless camera, you can check the view through the electronic viewfinder.

Use of the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds states that the objects in your picture should line up according to an imaginary grid of three vertical lines and three horizontal lines with all subjects falling on the intersection. In most shots, the sun should fall on the top of the grid with the other objects spaced accordingly.

Experiment with Different Exposures

When shooting sunsets, switch your camera to aperture priority mode, shutter priority mode or manual mode. These will allow you to control your cameras settings as opposed to having the camera control them automatically. While shooting, switch from exposure to exposure to find shots you’re happy with.

You can also use a technique called bracketing. This involves letting the camera find the exposure and then adjusting the settings so the photo is slightly over or underexposed. This allows for even more experimentation.

Although it’s good to play around with exposures, you will also want to stick with what works best. That’s where Auto Lock Exposure comes in handy.

Once you find the right exposure, lock it. Then maintain the lock in other shots to ensure they come out terrific.

Take Advantage of Auto White Balance

White balance adjusts the temperature of the colors in your photo making for hotter reds and cooler blues. If you set your camera on auto white balance, it will automatically adjust the colors for you.

This may or may not work so instead of relying on auto, you may want to try your cloudy or shade settings to warm things up, or incandescent to cool things off.

If you shoot in RAW, you will be able to tweak the colors in editing, but it’s always best to get the shots you are happy with up front.

Bring a Tripod

You may not want to use a tripod throughout your entire shoot, but it’s a good idea to have one there for when you are shooting at fast shutter speeds.

When the sun starts to set, a tripod may not be necessary since there is plenty of light. But once the action really kicks in, you’ll want to capture as many shots as possible. Having a tripod will keep you from spending time adjusting so you can get every second on film.

Use Manual Focus

Autofocus is terrific, but when the light conditions are changing rapidly, you can’t always count on it. Take a few shots with manual focus to see how things play out.

The sunset is a great photography subject. The tips in this article will help you capture the setting sun in all its glory getting you shots you are eager to share.

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