Photographing Sunsets

Photographing Sunsets

Shooting sunsets is one of the most rewarding elements of travel photography. You don’t need any special gear and you get to spend an hour or two relaxing in a scenic spot waiting for the perfect light. All three pictures below were shot with a DSLR but I’m pretty sure I could get similar results with a compact camera, possibly even a smartphone.

All three were also handheld so I never had to carry a tripod around with me, which is always a bonus. Obviously, the first step is to find a spot that you like that faces West, or nearly West. Then take a few shots until you find a composition that you like.

The real clincher in capturing an appealing sunset is getting the correct exposure. I normally set the aperture at f7 and then allow the camera to calculate the shutter speed. However, there is a problem here. Metering for the sun can produce a high shutter speed that makes the foreground too dark or in some cases too bright depending on the metering settings. The way around this is to point the camera to the right or left of the sun so that it’s not in the frame and then see what shutter speed the camera selects. Using this shutter speed recompose with the sun in the frame and take a few shots. This should produce a more appealing exposure and from this you can then bracket a few shots one stop apart.

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Photo of the Mekong at Luang Prabang, Laos.

Using this bracketing technique, I then just spend the next 30 minutes or so taking shots and waiting for the sky to light up orange. It doesn’t always happen but that’s part of the fun. Of course, if you want super-sharp images, use a tripod and a very low ISO setting. If you want a sun-star effect you’re probably going to have to set your aperture to f16 if your camera allows.

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Clevedon Pier, Bristol, UK

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4000 Islands, Laos.

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