Follow these tips and tricks for the best sunrise and sunset photos
Everyone loves a beautiful sunset photo, when the setting sun's colours transform the scenery with flickers of red and gold. It's not only romantic but creates cherished memories of holidays and special moments. Sunrises and sunsets have different light to harsher midday conditions, so you can be creative. Here's how to get those beautiful sunrise and sunset scenes.
Do your preparation
Sometimes a sunrise or sunset scene will be spontaneous. However, where possible you should prepare your photography session as much as possible. Research your location using online maps and try to make a visit in advance to check out potential viewpoints.
"Research your location using online maps and try to make a visit in advance to check out potential viewpoints"
You'll probably be arriving or leaving in the dark, so it's helpful to know where you are going and be aware of potential hazards in the area. Check which direction is east for a sunrise and west for a sunset so you know where you'll need to be to get the best shots.
Check weather conditions beforehand so you can prepare appropriately
Try to arrive an hour before sunrise or sunset. Coming early gives you time to set up and get a good position, especially in a popular location. Websites such as Accuweather give you the precise time of sunrise or sunset in a particular place, which is helpful if you are overseas. Accuweather also gives hour-by-hour forecasts so you can check weather conditions and prepare for a clear or cloudy sky. Another excellent planning tool is Photo Ephemeris which helps plan photography using natural light.
Take the right equipment
Sometimes a smartphone is all you need to take the best sunset photo
Taking the correct gear when photographing a sunset or sunrise is crucial. Pack a torch to give you some additional light. A wide-angled lens is helpful for landscape shots, whereas a zoom is ideal for capturing detail once the sun has risen. Smartphones are also great for capturing a sunrise or sunset, and produce good-quality photos, being both lightweight and easy to use if you are heading somewhere hard to reach.
"Taking the correct gear when photographing a sunset or sunrise is crucial"
A tripod is helpful for sunrise and sunset photography as it helps maintain a still and steady camera when the light conditions mean your shutter speed slows. Finally, filters are useful for photographing sunsets. A neutral-density graduated filter has a dark area at the top and a lighter space at the bottom. By aiming the darker section at the sky, the filter helps balance the light.
Make the most of silhouettes
Including interesting silhouettes will make your photo composition more interesting
Avoid taking generic sunrises and sunset pictures; instead, look for points of interest that make the composition more interesting. Boats, trees, castles, people, and mountains all make interesting silhouettes as the light changes. At sunrise, you may get mist, adding to the atmosphere. Look for movement if you are near water, as it adds more effects and depth to the photo. Adding a silhouette also adds a sense of place, especially if it is a recognisable feature such as a landmark or animal.
Manage the white light
By setting your white balance facility to the manual, you can capture some of the richer red colours as the light changes
The colour temperature is important when shooting sunrises and sunsets. Light may appear white, but it is a bundle of differing wavelengths from blue through to yellow and red on a spectrum. Varying light conditions have different colour temperatures. At sunrise, there are more red wavelengths, changing through the day to become increasingly rich in red as the sun sets. Cameras have an in-built facility for adjusting to white light. Sometimes this automatically filters out some wavelengths so your sunrise or sunset picture appears paler than anticipated. By setting your white balance facility to the manual, you can capture some of the richer red colours as the light changes at sunset and at sunrise.
Don't stop at one shot
Taking multiple photos will give you a greater chance at getting the perfect image
When you are photographing a sunrise or sunset, don't focus on one perfect shot, take several photos. If you have a smartphone and digital SLR (single-lens reflex camera), use both cameras for different effects. As the light changes, you'll get more texture and features in a well-composed photo. And with photography, you're continuously determining which image will be the most captivating, so you'll have a better chance of a perfect shot with a variety of photos.
Shoot in RAW
When you are taking lots of photos of sunrises and sunsets, it's essential to consider how the pictures will be processed.
"Direct sunlight can seriously damage your eyesight, so always protect yourself against damage from rays"
Using the RAW facility allows you to edit the picture, perhaps focusing on an aspect of the photo without making the scene blurred by a lack of pixelation.
Be careful if you are shooting towards the sun, especially if you have an optical viewfinder. Direct sunlight can seriously damage your eyesight, so always protect yourself against damage from rays.
Try different techniques
Finally, practice makes perfect, so take time to experiment with different scenes and shots to hone your skills and technique and so you capture that perfect sunrise and sunset.
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