- Plan ahead so you are prepared for any situation.
- Try using different lenses and focal lengths.
- Perfect the art of composition.
- Plan ahead and discover beautiful locations to shoot at.
- Keep the ISO low to avoid unnecessary noise.
- Experiment with creative filters for different looks.
- Bracket your photos so you can learn what apertures you prefer to use.
- Keep your camera and lenses clean.
- Have some fun and mess around with timelapses.
- Crucial Tips for Improved Sunrise and Sunset Photos
- 9 Spectacular Sunsets That Highlight the Beauty of Golden Hour
photo by DianaHirsch via iStock
Every photographer loves shooting sunsets, but not every photographer knows how to do it well. They are among the most challenging things to shoot thanks to the lack of light, how quickly they change, and how little time we have to capture them.
Fortunately for you, there’s no need to worry. If you follow the six straightforward tips that I detail in this article, you will be shooting like a pro and impressing your friends in no time!
Keep reading below to discover how to perfect your sunset photography with these simple tips!
Sunset Photography is the Art of Patience
photo by SinArtCreative via iStock
Patience is a virtue. It’s a saying as old as time, and in photography, truer words have never been spoken. If you want to see dramatic instant improvements in your sunset photography, here is our top overall tip.
Arrive early and stay late! If you expect to capture awe-inspiring images, it’s going to take more than popping outside in the middle of the sunset. The light, the clouds, and the views are all constantly changing, and it’s impossible to predict when the ideal moment will come.
Ideally, try to be at your sunset photography location and ready to shoot at least an hour before sunset. On the back end, stay until the sun is all the way down. You don’t know how many times I've packed up early for one reason or another, only to regret it immensely once back in the car and on my way home.
How to Take Sunset Photography: Don’t Forget Your Tripod
photo by MarioGuti via iStock
When shooting in low-light situations, such as sunset photography, your tripod is your best friend. In order to achieve those sharp and stunning images that I know you desire, you will 100% need to use a tripod!
This is due to the fact that as the sun keeps going down, and it gets darker and darker, you will need to shoot at lower shutter speeds. If you try to shoot by hand, initially your photos may come out alright, but quickly they will become either too blurry or too dark.
You may be saying to yourself, “It’s fine, I’ll just crank up the ISO!” Of course you could do this, and it will work for a short period of time, but eventually at certain ISO levels your sunset landscape photography will contain too much noise and therefore lose their sharpness and detail.
Use Manual Focus for Best Results With Sunset Nature Photography
photo by BirgerNiss via iStock
We all love shooting with autofocus, and why wouldn’t we? It’s fast, easy to use, and honestly, pretty darn amazing in most newer cameras. The fact that we can rely on it as much as we can is an incredible technological feat that only a few years ago seemed impossible.
However, sunset photography, and landscapes in general, are fantastic times to switch over to manual focus. It’s one of the best sunset photography settings. Your subject is static, and using manual focus you will have 100% control and can make sure your shots come out crystal clear!
The best way to focus manually is to start by turning the focus ring until the image looks sharp to the eye. Then, tap on the magnify button to zoom in on your image. Once zoomed in, you can fine-tune the focus until it’s just right! Clouds, mountains, and other objects on the horizon in your sunset landscape photography are wonderful points of focus when making tiny adjustments.
Always Shoot in RAW for Sunset Photography
photo by grinvalds via iStock
Shooting RAW files is an excellent habit no matter what you are photographing, but it is especially beneficial for perfecting your sunset photography. Personally, I would never shoot in any other file format.
RAW files are the highest quality photos that your camera can generate. They are unprocessed and preserve all the original image data. Additionally, they can capture a greater dynamic range from your camera sensor, which is absolutely crucial for sunsets.
With all the extra data packaged into the RAW files, you will have much more freedom to play and get creative with your photos when editing. You will finally be able to replicate exactly how the sunset photography looked in real life!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ditch the Auto White Balance for Sunset Photography
photo by SuriyaKK via iStock
White balance is a setting in your camera which you may not be completely aware of, especially if you are newer to photography. It adjusts the temperature of your colors in order to make the images cooler (more blue) or warmer (more red).
Auto white balance is a spectacular feature which automatically regulates the temperature, depending on where you are and the current lighting situation. Its ultimate goal is to try and make the image appear as close as possible to what your eyes see.
Most of the time it works great, but with sunset photography it’s best to manually select the white balance because it often overcompensates the blue tones and eliminates the photo's golden glow. A quick and easy fix is to switch the white balance setting to the “shade” or “cloudy” preset. You can test out the other presets too, you might just stumble onto a creative look you weren’t expecting!
Experiment with Different Shutter Speeds With Sunset Photography
photo by rui_noronha via iStock
Many people ask, “What is the best setting for sunset photography?” Truth be told, experimenting with the shutter speed is one last simple way to perfect your sunset photography. Even a small change in shutter speed can make a huge difference on the end result.
The longer your exposure (slower your shutter speed), the more light you will capture, and the brighter your photo will appear. It takes a long time to figure out the precise speed for accurately capturing the sunset, but the only way to learn is by experimenting.
Keep in mind that the light is constantly changing and that you will need to constantly be making adjustments accordingly. One minute you could have the perfect shutter speed to create the shot you want, and the next it will be underexposed. The more you practice, the more this will become second nature to you.
Bonus Tips for Sunset Photography
photo by Maxiphoto via iStock
Use these tips to perfect your sunset photography and have fun doing it!