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Top 5 Tips for Better Sunset Photos

There’s no sight in this world more magical than a sunset. With their breathtaking and ever-changing colors, they are one of the most awe-inspiring scenes to capture. But, sometimes, their beauty doesn’t always look as good in photos.

In this blog post, we’re going to walk you through 5 our favorite tips and tricks to get you from saying, “you just had to be there, the photos don’t do it justice” to confidently capturing stunning sunset photos that will make people wish they had been there.

1. Plan ahead and make sure to show up early and stay late. 

With sunsets only lasting a few minutes, you’ll need to consider a few things beforehand so that you don’t miss out on the best shot. You’ll need to know exactly what time the sun will be setting and where the best viewing spots are. It’s recommended to show up at least a half hour before the sun actually sets so that you can see the magic happen and watch how the sky changes colors. Take notice of how the light interacts with the scene around you – from how it dances in the grass to how it casts beautiful shadows on alleyways and rooftops. Make sure to test different compositions and keep your finger on the shutter button. 

You’ll also want to stay after the sun dips below the horizon and keep shooting because that’s when the best colors come out to play. There’s more magic to sunsets than the actual sun and how light awakens the clouds. Pay attention to how the low angle of the sun produces a rim light because it can lead to some powerfully backlit, silhouetted images. Blue hour arrives shortly after the sun sets and lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes. During this time, the remaining light of the sun takes on a blue and tranquil tone.

2. Slightly underexpose your images.

Slight underexposure will keep the colors of the sunset looking more rich and defined when you go to edit later. One of the ways you can underexpose, is by shooting with a faster shutter speed. 

3. Make sure your horizon line is straight.

This might seem like an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised how many people have taken gorgeous sunset photos with a crooked horizon. Having a straight horizon line keeps the image well-balanced and pleasing to the eye. 

Pro tip: Avoid placing the horizon line in the middle of the photo. For a more interesting composition, try placing the horizon towards the bottom or top third of the photo. 

4. Turn around. 

Try not to get too caught up on the sun or what’s in front of you because you might miss out on all of the magic happening behind you. Sunsets create really beautiful soft, warm light all around, so make sure to do a full 360.

5. Include a strong subject.

To create a truly powerful sunset photo, you’ll want to include a subject. Your subject can be anything from a person to a boats sitting at the dock. A strong subject will not only give viewers a focal point, but it will make the image far more visually appealing. 

Pro tip: Play around with including an interesting foreground; this could be an up close shot of flowers in a field. 

Bonus Tips:

  1. If you’re wanting the sun in your image to appear larger than it actually is, try using a telephoto lens. Contrastly, if you want it to look small, use a wide-angle lens. 
  2. Pay attention to reflections. If there’s water nearby, make sure to include it in your photo for double the sunset goodness.
  3. Look out for birds! Birds are a perfect way to add some visual interest to a scene. Try playing around with capturing crisp, in focus birds versus blurred, in-flight motion.

Now that you know how to capture a great sunset shot, let’s get to the fun part – editing!

Whether you’re shooting pink cotton candy skies or warm golden hues, we’ve got something for you.

Our high-quality and easy-to-use Lightroom presets will transform your photos in just one click. All you need is your phone and the FREE Lightroom mobile app. Our presets are also compatible with the paid desktop version. Every preset collection comes with a step-by-step instructions guide that details (with screenshots) how to download and install your preset files so, even if you’re a newbie to all things photography and editing, you’ll be feeling like a pro in no time!

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All wanderers welcome.

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