Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Those Amazing Sunsets

Capturing breathtaking sunsets is not as difficult as it seems.  A couple of tricks will turn your pale colored sunset photos into WOW colored images.  The main issue is getting the correct exposure, since you are shooting into the sun, the built-in light meter of your camera will be thrown out of range and hence the colors will be lame.

The first and most important technique is to get the exposure right.  Aim just above the sun and make sure you cannot see the sun through the viewfinder, hold your shutter halfway down to lock the exposure.  Do not release the shutter button.  With this trick you are setting the perfect sunset exposure.  Next move your camera, compose your image and when you are ready press the shutter button down the rest of the way.  You now have captured an image with gorgeous colors.

Downtown Miami
After shooting the sunset, do not put away your camera, most of the time marvelous light is about to show up.  Around 20 minutes after sunset, sometimes the clouds turn bright orange, purple or dark red and a combination of all three.  Great shots will come out of being patient.  If you wait even longer 30 to 45 after sunset the sky will turn deep blue, right before turning black.  It only lasts around 10 minutes and combined with different subjects you can create wonderful images.

Miami Beach
Now, you can also use some technical settings to achieve perfect sunset images.  One of them is changing your white balance from daylight to cloudy, this will help you capture warmer sunsets.  Another technique includes the use of a neutral density gradient filter.  This filter is dark at the top smoothly graduating to completely transparent.  This kind of filter will darken the sky, gradually making it lighter and having no effect by the time it reaches the ground.  The end result is an image where both the sky and the ground look properly exposed.

St. Maarten 
Try shooting sunsets and creating silhouettes.  Position your subject in front of the setting sun, this will help outline the silhouette.  Aim to the sky to set your exposure, your subject will now appear in a black silhouette.

Last but not least, you are shooting in low light, so use a tripod and set your f stop from f/8 to f/16 so that everything looks sharp from back to front and remember your rule of thirds, place the horizon either on the top or the bottom third, do not center the horizon in your image.

Go capture those amazing sunsets!!


  1. Excelent tips thanks a lot for your help

  2. Great sunset images, Joaquin! Each and every one brings back beautiful memories! May there be many many more!! :)

  3. Great suggestions, Joaquin! Esp. about aiming just above the sun & setting the white balance to cloudy. I'll put those in my kit.