Nature Photography: Five Tips For Great Sunset Photos.

Sunsets (and sunrises) are an inspiration to any nature photographer, professional or beginner alike. In fact, this does not just apply to nature photographers; almost anybody with a camera is likely to snap off a few shots when faced with a brilliant sunset sky.

The great news is, good sunset photos are surprisingly easy to take. In my gallery, I don’t actually display many sunset photographs. You see, they are hard to sell, because almost everybody has a few great sunsets they have photographed themselves. Rather than buy mine, they are more likely to grab their camera and show me the picture they took the night before!

Consequently, I see a lot of sunset photos by amateur photographers, and have learned to quickly spot where they have gone wrong. It is not hard to expose a sunset photo; in many cases you can leave your camera on auto and it will do the work for you. The trouble people have is in making an interesting composition. It is not good enough just to photograph a good sky. The challenge is in making that sky part of an interesting photograph.

Here are my five tips for taking great sunset (and sunrise) photos.

Sunset Photography Tip #1.

Learn to predict a good sunset before it happens. Have you ever seen a perfect sky, only to realise you didn’t have your camera handy? In the five minutes it takes to get your camera and set up for the photo, the moment has passed. As brilliant as a sunset can be, the effect may last for only a few minutes, so you need to be able to choose your location, set up your camera, and be waiting for the show to start.

Sunset Photography Tip #2.

Be patient to get the best colours. The few minutes as the sun is crossing the horizon can be spectacular, but it is not the whole story of a sunset. As the sinking sun lights the clouds from below, often the richest colours can appear up to half an hour later. By this time it will be getting quite dark, so be prepared with your tripod. You may be shooting exposures of half a second or more to bring out the best in your sunset photograph.

Sunset Photography Tip #3.

Find a good foreground subject. This may be the most important tip of all. Time after time people show me their sunset photos, and all I can think is “Great sky…pity you didn’t make a better photo out of it.” We have all seen and photographed spectacular skies, so that alone is not enough to create your work of art. Try to identify some object that stands well above the horizon (trees, windmills, buildings, power-lines) and has a shape that will create a good silhouette. It doesn’t have to fill up your picture. In fact, it may only take up a small area – that will only make the sky seem even more impressive. The important thing is to give your picture a focal point, so that your viewer has something more interesting to look at than just a great sky.

Think back to my tip #1.

To get a great photo you need to be prepared in advance, so scout your location for a good foreground well before the razzle-dazzle gets underway.

Sunset Photography Tip #4.

Fill your photo with colour. You have probably heard of the ‘rule of thirds’ in landscape photography. In simple terms this rule suggests your horizon should be a third of the way from the top, or from the bottom, of your photo to create a balanced composition. The trouble is, when you are photographing into the sunset, everything in the foreground will be in silhouette. That means that by following the rule of thirds, a large part of your picture will be completely black. This is one situation where you can ignore the rule of thirds. By allowing your sky to dominate the composition, you fill your picture with colour and draw even more attention to the richness of the sunset.

Sunset Photography Tip #5.

If near water, use it to enhance the effect. People often see a sunset at the beach, or by a river, and stand a long way back to get their shot. This does not take full advantage of the reflections on the water, and instead of a colourful foreground there will again be too much black space.

Get right down to the water’s edge or to the wet sand on the beach. By capturing the reflections, your foreground will echo the colour of the sky. Not only will your photo be more colourful, but you will start to spot opportunities for much more interesting compositions.

So there you have my simple tips on sunset photography. Notice that I have concentrated on creativity, not technology. As I said at the beginning, exposing a good sunset photo is not difficult; the challenge is to make your photo stand out from the rest. Like all good nature photography, your sensitivity to nature is far more important than technical expertise. Be inspired by nature, and great photography will follow. Good luck!

If you found these tips helpful, Andrew Goodall has released two top-selling ebooks that have already helped thousands of new photographers learn the art and skills of nature photography. See Andrew’s images and ebooks at While you are there, enjoy even more great photography tips by subscribing to our online newsletter…it’s free!

Article Source: ArticleSpan

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