Home Photography tips 10 tips to shoot & edit better Sunset photos

10 tips to shoot & edit better Sunset photos

written by Adri October 3, 2019
10 tips to shoot & edit better Sunset photos

Sunset photography tips

Sunset photography & editing can be a bit tricky. We experimented and played around with settings for a long time until we achieved what we envisioned. We wanted to share our 10 tips we wish we knew earlier. These tips will help you capture the sunset your eyes see.

Tip 1

Shoot RAW

For sunset photography we definitely recommend shooting in RAW. This will give you a lot more data to be able to save your sunset highlights and bring up the shadows in post if needed.

Tip 2

Expose for the Highlights 

In order to preserve the sunset highlights you need to expose for them. Digital cameras hold more data in the shadows than highlights so you will be able to bring up the shadows when editing

The better the camera the more dynamic range (range of dark to light detail) you will be able to capture. Experiment with your camera to see how much you can bring up the shadows without it being too noisy and grainy.

Tip 3

Check the weather

Keep an eye on the weather, the best days for sunsets are when there are patchy clouds around that let the sun through and bounce off, also if there is smoke or dust in the sky this can make for amazing orange sunsets.

Tip 4

Look behind you

Look around, sometimes the colours directly behind you may be better than the sunset your focusing on in front of you. Or the warm sunset light might be lighting up something magically.

Sunset camera settings
ISO 200 24mm f3.2 640sec

Tip 5

Wait around after sunset

Wait until after the sun has gone down. Just when you think its all over, sometimes you can get a sunset encore around 30mins after the sun has actually set, the sky can light up again with even better colours than the actual sunset.

ISO400 70mm f8 100sec

Tip 6

Use live view

If using a DSLR use the cameras screen in live view can help you see actual exposures as well as not risk damaging your eyes if the sun is too bright through the lens.

Tip 7

White Balance

White Balance (WB). If you shoot in RAW this is not so important as you can always adjust WB in post, but shooting in Cloudy WB rather than Auto WB can give your sunset shots a much richer sunset colour straight away.

How to shoot better sunset photos?
ISO400 24mm f2.8 160sec

Tip 8

Experiment with focal lengths

Shooting a wide angle like 24mm will capture more of the colour sky around your subject but it will make the sun look small in frame,  if you want to make the sun look larger use a longer focal length (zoom in). If you have a subject in frame moving further away from it/them and using a longer lens can compress the background giving a larger more dramatic sunset behind it.

Sunset photography
ISO 100 70mm f4 1/1250

Tip 9

Move your horizon line

Use the rule of thirds,  placing your horizon line on the lower third of the frame will give more interesting shots, use your frame to fill it with as much of the sunset as you can rather than darker uninteresting areas.

Tip 10

Foreground

Add some foreground. This can give a regular sunset shot more interest, for silhouettes choose shapes that are not to bulky so they don’t take away from the sunset and use shapes that are interesting or recognisable.

Sunset photography
ISO100 24mm f5.6 1/80sec

Shooting with Iphone

Iphones do a pretty good job at balancing exposure for sunsets. To get more out of your phone’s camera in extreme light conditions, shoot using the Mobile Lightroom app. The camera mode in the app allows you to shoot in RAW on your phone and have more control over the exposure and settings. Phones naturally have limits when it comes to contrasty situations so you may have to sacrifice highlights or shadows depending on the subject to get the perfect balance.

Editing sunset photos

To edit all of our photos we use our desktop Lightroom presets or for our mobile photos we use our mobile Lightroom presets.


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