How To Photograph Sunsets

Sunsets are one of the world’s most natural wonders. They are so beautiful, and can be different every single time you see one.

The range of colors and the light can be mesmerizing to witness, so it is no surprise that you would want to capture a sunset in your photography.

How To Photograph Sunsets

While sunsets are great subject matter for your images, they can be tricky to capture. When the sun is setting, the light can be very strong, and can cause glare on your images.

They can either be overexposed, or underexposed- which makes the photograph unclear and not as good as it can be.

So, how do you photograph sunsets? In this guide, we will cover all of the tips and tricks of photographing sunsets so that your images can look just as beautiful as the scene in front of you.

Why Do Sunsets Look Bad On Camera?

When you witness a sunset (see also “Best Sunset Photography Ideas“), your eyes may behold the scene before you, but when you try to take a photograph, it may look dull or just not the same . The photograph may have lost the natural beauty of the sunset. 

Sunsets can sometimes look worse on camera than they do in real life. The main reason that sunsets look bad on camera is because the exposure is wrong. 

Cameras tend not to expose sunsets well, because the light from the sun can be strong, but the rest of the scene is dimly lit. This can leave shadows and dark areas in your images, or glare on your camera lens.

Most of the time, cameras can underexpose a sunset, so it is far better to change the settings on your camera, and play around with them.

For instance, if you adjust the exposure and white balance, and take multiple photographs, you can narrow it down until you get the image that you see before you. 

How To Photograph Sunsets Properly

When it comes to taking photographs of sunsets properly, it is all about the settings on your camera that you use. 

If you know how to adjust your settings, you can take much better images of sunsets in the long run.  So, let’s go over the basics. 

Best Camera Settings For Sunsets

The first step is to change your shutter speed. You will want to use a fast shutter speed. This can minimize the exposure time, and lessens the risk of glare and the sun burning out the photograph. 

You will also want to use a wide aperture. The best part about a sunset is how it impacts the landscape around it. Shooting with a wide aperture can ensure that you capture the whole scene of the sunset. 

We recommend using a narrow setting, such as f/11 or higher if your camera is able to. You will also want to change your ISO settings. For instance, the sun is very bright when it is setting, and can be brighter than the rest of the scene around it. 

You will want to use a low ISO setting. In addition, the sun will also get brighter as it sets, so as it gets closer to the horizon, it may shine more. In that case, you will need to increase the ISO as time goes on. 

We also recommend that you focus the image yourself. Cameras can struggle with focusing on a sunset. It may try to focus on the brightest part of the image, such as the sun, or the way that the light bounces off the scene in front of you. 

So, set the focal point of your image yourself to avoid any unwanted blur. You should also use a tripod for crisper, clearer images! 

Finally, you should also play around with the white balance settings on your camera. Most digital cameras have automatic white balancing settings, but you may need to try other options depending on the sunset you are looking at.

Try all of the manual white balance settings until you get the overall look that you are going for. 

What Is The Best ISO For Sunsets?

If you are unsure what ISO setting to choose for shooting sunsets, then we can help you. We recommend using a low to mid range ISO setting such as 200 or 400.

However, you can have some fun with it, and experiment with various settings to get the result that you want.

How Do You Prevent Lens Flare When Photographing Sunsets?

One of the primary issues photographers face when shooting sunsets is lens flare. The sun can be very strong at this point in the day, which can result in glare on the lens.

To prevent this, you will want to try a few different angles, and you can block the light so that it does not overwhelm your image.

Try shooting from a range of angles, and use the scenery around you to block light. For instance, you can use trees or other objects to prevent lens flare. 

When Should You Photograph Sunsets?

The issue with sunsets is that you have to be quick to photograph them. The sun can drop down in the sky quickly, and the light may change within seconds. You have to be on your toes, and alter your settings to capture the image well. 

However, the best time to photograph sunsets is during ‘golden hour’. This is around an hour before the sun actually sets, which will provide you with the most flattering lighting to capture beautiful images. 

Final Thoughts

To summarize, when you adjust the settings on your camera, you can capture beautiful images of sunsets. Have some fun with it by experimenting with your exposure, ISO and white balance settings. 

Don’t forget- try using the rule of thirds to compose your images, keeping the key element a third of the way into the frame. This can make an image pleasing to the eye, and is one of the best ways to compose a sunset photograph! 

Laura McNeill
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