As we transition into the winter season from fall, the days become shorter and the nights so much longer but there is a bright side to all of this. The shorter the days become is the earlier we will see the sunset. As a child, watching the sunset was one of the most majestic things I could see especially if I was on a beach. This made me develop not only a love for sunsets but an appreciation for them as well with the vivid colors that come with them. I can only imagine some of you share the same feeling and would love to capture the moment in the best way possible. Well, no worries because I am here to teach you some of the basic things you need to do to get some amazing sunset shots that will last forever.
The first step to making sure you get a clean and crisp sunset shot is to clean your lens. If you’re anything like me then you probably make sure your lenses are clean when you find the time or on a weekly bases. This should be a common habit of you and not only when you want to take sunset photos but nonetheless, it is imperative for sunset images. In your day to day shooting, when you take your lens in and out your camera bag or switch another lens on to your camera body, in those few seconds it can accumulate dust, sand or even water spots. Some of you may be wondering why is this simple thing so important. Well, when doing sunset photography you will be pointing your lens to the sun which will reveal even some of the tiniest specs on your lens indicating how dirty it is. Of course, some of these spots can be cloned out during post-production but to save yourself from doing all that work, just clean it and you’ll be amazed at the results you get.
My second tip to you would be to shoot with a wide angle lens. Sunset photography can be categorized as landscape photography as well which you generally shoot at about 14mm or 24mm. I make it a habit to use my 24mm f/2.8 which helps to compose my shoot good enough and capture all the detail I need in my photo. After you’ve gotten enough wide angle shots then you can consider recomposing and zooming or switching lenses to capture a different perspective but act fast as you only have few minutes to be intimate with the sun.
I think I’ve mentioned using a tripod in so many of my articles, it’s almost a compulsory Item but I promise it does actually come in hand when capturing the sun. Some of you may disagree and say that tripods are just extra weight that slows you down and to an extent that is true but it comes in handy in more occasions than one. As the sun sets, each second or minute that passes by, it gets darker. As it gets darker you have to adjust your shutter speed to match the current lighting around you for a good shot. A slow shutter speed will make you vulnerable to things such as camera shake which will ruin your shot. The tripod will help in your general composition and leave you not having to worry about image sharpness and stabilization
As a beginner, you might not be completely comfortable shooting in full manual mode for sunset photography as it can be a challenge. Don’t be afraid to change that dial to aperture priority mode and capture your shows as it doesn’t make you any less of a photographer. Your shutter priority mode can easily be acknowledged as an “A” or “Av” on your dial. The mode basically gives you control over the aperture value and the camera will adjust everything else such as your shutter speed to match the aperture you’ve chosen. However, if you are completely comfortable with shooting in full manual then be my guest but it might take you a little time to get all the setting right as the light is constantly changing and you might miss what could’ve been your best shot.
When capturing sunsets, try to use your LCD screen as much as possible. Not only does it gives you a better perspective of the scene you’re capturing at a wide angle but it also helps not to damage your eyes as well. Capturing images of the sun can be harmful to your eyes if you try to use the optical viewfinder instead of the screen.
The sun is a very majestic and great model. You have to give the sunset some time and don’t be so quick to pack up and leave once you’ve gotten the shot you wanted. As the sun falls below the horizon, you have no idea what surprises may be in store. Wait around a bit until its completely gone so you can capture and enjoy every minute of it.