Photography can be difficult; sometimes, it takes a lot of trial and error to get the perfect picture. Some objects are more difficult to capture than others – and one that causes a lot of frustration for photographers is the sun.
Sunrises and sunsets create some of the most beautiful sceneries but when you try to capture it, no matter how good your camera is, the end result is often a little underwhelming.
So, if you want to capture a red sun exactly as you see it with your naked eye, this is the guide. Below, we are going to be talking about how to photograph a red sun so that the next time you see one, you know exactly what to do to get the perfect shot!
1. Use A Low Or Mid ISO
The trick to capturing the full glory and beauty of a sunrise or sunset is to adjust the exposure of your camera. To do this, most photographers use ISO controls.
ISO is used to determine the light sensitivity of your camera so it can produce lighter or darker photographs. This comes in handy when photographing in low or harsh sunlight – like around sunsets or sunrises!
The higher the ISO is set, the more sensitive it is to light. Images appear lighter and paler as a result, washing out the colors for a different effect. So, using a low or mid-ISO range makes it less sensitive to light.
This allows the camera to capture the true red color of your sun rather than being overly sensitive to the light and making it look white in your final photograph.
What exact ISO setting you should use all depends on your individual situation and the type of camera you have. Most photographers will use a 200 or 400 ISO setting for shooting red suns but if this is not working for you, then try an 800 instead.
2. Choose Your Shutter Speed
The speed of your shutter also has an impact on the exposure of your photograph. The slower your shutter speed is, the more light is allowed into the camera for a lighter image.
As a result, to get the right exposure for your camera, you will likely want to keep the light meter on 0 while you adjust the shutter speed.
Most cameras come with modes that adjust the shutter speed in line with the exposure of your camera so it always remains at 0 and will not need manual adjusting.
Bear in mind that slower shutter speeds can produce an unwanted blurring effect on your photographs!
3. Bracket The Exposure
If you don’t want to rely on your camera’s light meter, then you can use the bracketing technique to adjust the exposure yourself.
This method requires you to take several photographs at different exposures so you can later review the results and pick the best photograph of the bunch.
This is a good method to use if you are unsure what ISO or shutter speed to use. Basically, you use them all and cast your net wide so you are more likely to snag the perfect photograph!
It’s not a perfect method as it’s more time-consuming but it also covers your back.
Some cameras come with automatic exposure bracketing so as you take several shots, the exposure changes automatically. Other cameras may feature a dial for you to use to adjust the exposure between each shot yourself.
4. Set Auto Exposure Lock
Depending on the type of camera you are using, it may come with a feature called Auto Exposure Lock (AEL for short). AEL is a function that allows you to lock the exposure of your scene while you reframe.
This function is super handy for photographing sunsets as it allows you to keep the brightness you need for the sunset while adjusting the scene for a better focus on objects in the front of your scene.
Basically, you can keep the sun red in the background without ruining the rest of the shot!
5. Don’t Forget About Composition!
After focusing so much on capturing the right color of your red sun, it’s easy to take some pictures that capture the true color of the sun – but completely lack the composition for a high-quality photograph!
Remember to keep the composition of your photograph in mind!
And that’s it!
When it comes to photography, capturing a rare red sun either during a sunrise or sunset can be difficult.
Most photographers are left disappointed when the red sun they saw appears orange or white on their final photographs – but there are ways you can avoid this!
Adjusting the exposure on your camera is the key to dimming the brightness of the sun as you capture it with your camera (see also “Where Should The Sun Be When Taking Pictures?“), allowing the red color to appear on your photographs instead of a white flare.
To do this, play with the settings such as the IOS and shutter speeds of your camera. You can also try bracketing techniques to ensure you get the results you want. Good luck!
Frequently Asked Questions
The ‘golden hour’ (or ‘magic hour’) rule is a saying professional photographers will also use when giving advice to other photographers about photographing sunsets and sunrises.
According to the rule, the last hour before sunset is the best time to capture the best possible sunset photographs. This is when the lighting is optimal for photography.
Likewise, the first hour after sunrise is also the best time to take your photographs.
If you are wondering why the sun during sunsets and sunrises looks red in the first place, it’s because of an effect called Rayleigh Scattering.
Because the sun is a further distance away compared to during the middle of the day, the blue light waves it emits are scattered more easily by particles in the air and so, red light waves reach our eyes – and the sun looks red!
This same effect is also why the sky changes to a pink or orange color during the same time of day.