I Will Let The Sun Go Down On Me

I Will Let The Sun Go Down On Me

How To Photograph Great Sunsets.

St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, sunset, sunsets, exposure, golden hour, camera lens, white balance, sun, light, dusk,

This time of year is a great time to capture sunsets, particularly if you live in a part of the world that is blessed with longer dusks. Popular beauty spots and tourist resorts are often thronged with people doing the same thing, but you need to do more than point and click to capture the glory of sunsets and dusk. Here are some tips to help you get more memorable evening shots...

sunset, sunsets, exposure, golden hour, camera lens, white balance, sun, light, dusk,

* Think about your lens


The setting sun needs to be placed in balance with the rest of the scene, so think carefully about your lens's focal length. A wide-angle lens will obviously capture more of the scene, so this is a good choice if you want to capture the sun going down over the sea. Using a longer lens or zooming right in to the setting sun might be tempting, but you will lose context.

Part of the Taj Mahal silhouetted by the setting sun, Agra, India., sunset, sunsets, exposure, golden hour, camera lens, white balance, sun, light, dusk,

* Get the right white balance


Odd as it sounds, auto white balance can be thrown by rich sunsets, so choose direct sunlight or even cloudy for the best results. Cloudy can actually give you richer colours. If you shoot in raw, as we recommend, you can easily change the white balance in photo-editing software.

Teign estuary, Devon, Great Britain, sunset, sunsets, exposure, golden hour, camera lens, white balance, sun, light, dusk,

* Think about where the sun is


If the sun is still quite strong and high in the sky, you may get better results if you put it behind a building or object while allowing its rays to shine through – a technique known as contre jour. Metering can be a headache with this kind of technique, so take your time and experiment with centre weighted rather than the default evaluative/matrix mode. It's better to have the object in front of the sun coming through as a silhouette, and retain some detail in the sky.

A misty sunrise view of the King's Sedgemoor Drain, in the Somerset Levels, nr Langport, Somerset, Great Britain. sunset, sunsets, exposure, golden hour, camera lens, white balance, sun, light, dusk,

* Don't go over the top in software


Sunsets can look gorgeous and it's tempting to 'enhance' them even more in software. Don't get too carried away though and pump up the reds and pinks so much that they look garish and psychedelic. Less is often more when it comes to image editing, and again, you have much more flexibility and latitude if you shoot in raw, rather than JPEG.

Sakurajima, Japan, sunset, sunsets, exposure, golden hour, camera lens, white balance, sun, light, dusk,

* Shoot other things at dusk.


Dusk light can obviously be great for other subjects, not just sunsets, so travel and landscape photographers should be working hard in the hour before the sun goes down. You may need to use a higher ISO or wider aperture to cope with the failing light, but the results can be spectacular. It's also a good time to get creative with traffic trails or cityscapes at a slow shutter speed, as there is still some colour left in the sky.

If you would like to know more about light & exposure, then why not consider taking Nigel Hick’s 4 week online course Exposure: Understanding Light & Exposure.