Five Tips for Sunset Photographs

Many of us enjoy being outdoors taking pictures of sunsets and whatnot, but how do we get those really beautiful shots? Here are Five Tips for Sunset Photographs.

True story, I was in a camera shop in the Santa Barbara area a while ago and a woman was talking with a sales rep about a camera. "All I want to do is take pictures of the sunset" the woman stated. Well the sales rep knowing this woman had money recommended the Canon 5d Mark II. Telling her it will take the best sunset pictures. She said "I want it!" She didn't bat an eye at the price. The sales rep then continued to sell her a lens, memory card, tripod, ect...

It takes more than just a good camera to take good sunset pictures. These tips will help you out!

1) As in most landscape photography shots you don't want the horizon in the middle of the frame. If you have a good foreground put the horizon line in the top third of the frame. If you have an interesting sky put the horizon line at the bottom third of the frame.

2) Use a tripod! I take my tripod with me everywhere, especially when I am doing nature photography. There is a reason me and my fellow pro photographers carry around these big, heavy, expensive tripods. They provide us the stabilization we need for beautiful, tack sharp photos.

3) Use a hot shoe bubble level or in some cases an in-camera level. Crooked horizon lines are not a desired effect in most sunset pictures, or in most landscape pictures for that matter.

4) Use a split grad Neutral Density filter. This will help you capture foreground elements when the sky is significantly brighter. If no filter is used it's likely you will end up with silhouetted foreground elements, which is often a desired effect.

5) Set your camera white balance to cloudy. I do this with most of my landscape photography, I like the warm feel to it, but especially for sunset pictures. It will enhance the oranges and reds of the sky.

Good luck on your next shoot, hope these tips help you get the sunset photograph you are looking for.

This is a sunset image taken from the shores of Guadalupe Dunes Preserve near Santa Maria, california. I used the HDR technique to capture the entire tonal range of the scene.