Have you ever wondered why your sunset pictures never look like those on the covers of promotional material to exotic destinations? While those results take skill, practice and the correct equipment, we can provide some tips to improve your sunset photography.

Creating silhouettes in sunset pictures add a nice element to your work.

Creating silhouettes in sunset pictures add a nice element to your work.

Plan ahead

Before heading out during the golden hour, or blue hour, to shoot sunsets images, it is important to take note of the most important things. You have to plan ahead to achieve successful sunset pictures. First, find a good spot and then determine where the sunset takes place. A golden rule is to be there before it happens as the changes happen very fast. If you have a good foreground, the battle is half won already.

Look around. All the action might not be where the sun is setting.

Look around. All the action might not be where the sun is setting.

Exposure

Shoot in different exposures to achieve spectacular photos. Underexposing often creates more spectacular sunset images. Never use the ‘auto’ function, but experiment with both aperture and shutter priority modes.  A slower shutter speed can create some amazing long exposure sunset shots. Also remember that high aperture values can create cool effects, adding some interesting elements to sunset pictures.  For better results, expose for both the sun and the scenery (use bracketing if your camera has the function). Many cameras have auto exposure lock. If you want to use this during sunset pictures, simply point your camera at the darkest part of the image and press this button. You can then reframe the image and point the camera at the sunset. Your image will be more overexposed.

Under expose sunset photos as this creates vivid colours and contrast.

Under expose sunset photos as this creates vivid colours and contrast.

Set the white balance

Don’t use Auto white balance when you shoot when you want great sunset photography results. Experiment with both cloudy and daylight. Once you get that right, you can even play around with others. Tungsten for example can create a cooling effect, creating a completely different mood.

Always stick around for longer as you might get more out of sunset pictures. This image was taken within 30 minutes after the sun set.

Always stick around for longer as you might get more out of sunset pictures. This image was taken within 30 minutes after the sun set.

Take in the surroundings

With sunset photography, it is not only about the sunset. Look around you, sometimes there is another scene just behind you because of the coloring. Remember that the light still plays around for 30 minutes after the sunset.

Ever thought about overexposing your sunset images? This could create a different perspective to images.

Ever thought about overexposing your sunset images? This could create a different perspective to images.

Other tips for sunset photography

  • Pack your tripod if you plant to include long exposure sunset pictures.
  • A clean sensor is important. There is nothing like a speck of dust to spoil good sunset images.
  • Use your flash to fill in details on people’s faces in sunset images.
  • Leave the flash if you want to create a silhouette.
  • Keep your horizon straight.

Grab your camera and head out this afternoon to achieve great results during the golden hour. The more you practice, the better results you will achieve with sunset pictures. Remember to submit your photos on SlickPic to ensure they are preserved.