How To Take the Best Sunrise and Sunset Photographs

5/03/2021 6:35 am

Nothing causes us to take a break from our busy lives more than the beautiful sight of a colourful sunrise or sunset. Almost every artist has attempted to capture this beauty in their work, but as photographers we have a great advantage; with a simple click of a shutter we can go home with a close representation of these wonders. 

 

While we have probably all taken countless sunrise and sunset photos which we were proud enough to share with our Instagram followers, there are some steps that can be taken to improve your results and strike gold more consistently; we are here to share these steps with you today.


Allow yourself plenty of time

 

 

While both sunrises and sunsets last longer than the press of a shutter, if you want to give yourself the best chance to capture beautiful photographs, plan your shoot so you have plenty of time to do so. For sunrises, this means heading out the door while it is still dark, for sunsets set up your camera before the sun starts going down. This gives you time to enjoy the occasion as it advances and the colours change drastically before your eyes.


Don’t forget, the periods just after sunrise and before sunset produce a beautiful quality of light, which is known as the golden hour. If you time things just right, you can capture some sunrise and sunset shots as this wonderful warm light paints the land; this is an old landscape photography tip.

How to take the best sunrise and sunset photographs

Look for the best seats in the house

How to take the best sunrise and sunset photographs

 

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Keep this in mind as you go about your day, looking for places that have a clear view of the horizon and an interesting landscape. While the wonderful and unique colours of the sky are the main stars, having a distracting and unattractive foreground can spoil your shot. On the contrary, having an interesting foreground, such as a well-composed landscape element can take your sunrise and sunset photographs to the next level.

Use the right camera gear

 

The best camera is the one you have on you, so if you see a beautiful sunset photography opportunity while you are travelling and you only have your smartphone one you, by all means take a shot. If you have time to plan however, then having a dedicated camera on hand will reward you with consistently great results. The best camera for sunrise and sunset photography is either DSLR or Mirrorless cameras as they are compatible with a wide range of lenses and accessories, have manual functions, and provide better image quality in darker conditions, which is when smaller cameras, like the one found in your phone, can prove limiting.

How to take the best sunrise and sunset photographs
How to take the best sunrise and sunset photographs

 

Here are some other essential items for producing the best sunrise and sunset photography:

 

Tripod - If you want to experiment with slow shutter speeds, a tripod is necessary for reducing camera shake. Tripods can also come in handy for perfecting your composition.

 

Remote release - For firing the shutter without shifting or bumping your camera. Some cameras require a dedicated accessory, while others can be triggered with your smartphone.

 

Digital camera lens- Lens choice will vary depending on your goals and it should be considered before you head out on your shoot. A wide angle lens is great for capturing as much sky as possible in your shot. Smartphone users, you are in luck, there are a number of budget-friendly smartphone lenses available for you to experiment with in order to capture stunning sunrise and sunset photographs with your mobile photography kit.

 

Lens filters- As well as being a necessary step in the clean and care of your camera lens, lens filters are a great way to alter the appearance of your photo, without needing to do any editing. Some options for the task at hand include polarisers to increase colour saturation, or ND filters, which can help you use a longer exposure for a desired effect, when the sun is producing plenty of light.

Use the right camera settings

 

 

As is always the case with photography, your camera settings will need to be tweaked to suit the current shooting conditions. We recommend setting your camera to manual mode and coming to terms with the ins and outs of the exposure triangle, as this arms you with the tools needed to capture the best photo every time.

 

While we can’t give you the precise settings, the following is a good starting point:

 

ISO - Keep your ISO as low as possible in order to minimise image noise. If you have moving elements in your image, or you don’t have access to a tripod, you will need to use a higher ISO in order to use faster shutter speeds.

Aperture - This is important as you want as much detail as possible in your photo. If you use a smaller aperture, more of your image will be in focus. We recommend setting the aperture of your lens between f8-16.

Shutter Speed - This can now be set in accordance with your other settings, in order to help you achieve a pleasing exposure.

RAW - We recommend shooting with your camera set to RAW to maximise your image quality, and also to allow more latitude during the editing stages.

How to take the best sunrise and sunset photographs

Add the finishing touches

How to take the best sunrise and sunset photographs

 

In the modern age, digital editing can be used to produce mend bending effects but it can also be used to turn your very good image into something spectacular. The best part is, often this doesn’t require too much intervention. 

 

Some simple adjustments that you can consider making to enhance your photograph include; cropping for a more pleasing composition, a white balance adjustment for an improved colour palette, exposure corrections, and a curves layer to adjust contrast.


Unleash your photography potential with Ted’s

If you are keen to get outdoors with a new digital camera to capture the best sunrise and sunset photography while the weather is still good, Ted’s cameras are here to help with the latest product roundups and lens recommendations.

 

If you have the gear but need to hone your skills, keep stopping by our photography blog - you might learn something new!


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