Take Better Sunset Pictures - Hints & Tips
Updated: Jan 29, 2020
Hello everyone, and once again thanks for reading my landscape photography blog.
I have had a request from a couple of people to do one based on the photographers favourite capture, the sunrise & sunset and how to get the most out of them, So heres my top tips to improve your pictures of the golden hour.
1. PLAN, PLAN & PLAN
It might sound like such an obvious thing but it can be overlooked by so many. So what should you plan for ? Do you have a shot in mind ? Is it just a location you want to get a shot from ? Is the tide right ? Will the weather be what you need ?
All questions you should think about before you go for a shoot in general.
I will usually have a shot in mind I want to achieve before I even consider a venue for a shoot, I know what I want to get out of it before i've even got there.
I will look first of all at the weather forecast, if it's heavy rain and thick cloud its odds on its not going to be what you want so change your plan to an area that looks far more favourable.
Ideal conditions will be sun & cloud, I'm not in favour of clear skies for this sort of shoot although they do have their own place I just prefer a bit more drama in a shot. That comes from good cloud cover that lights up well.
The weather forecast can be incredibly frustrating when they get it wrong time after time and this happens an awful lot, I have learned to use it more as a guide than a "matter of fact".
I don't know many jobs where you can consistently get things wrong and still remain employed ? Seems they are onto a bit of a winner there.
When I say use it as a guide I simply mean trust your gut, Your experience will tell you when you look out of the window in the morning far better than a forecast made many hours before. If it looks favourable on the forecast I will set an alarm early and have a look outside then make a decision.
Of course we can all get it wrong more often than not but I'm willing to bet you catch a few good ones that the weather forecast didn't.
So what about the tide times and why should you use these ? Well, what might appear to be a pretty simple plain beach at high tide can reveal a wealth of ledges and rocks hidden beneath that can give you great foreground, A focal area for light to bounce off and a general more interesting picture.
It's not a guaranteed science and you will have to know your venue to decide if it makes all the difference.
The other main reason for knowing the tide times is the most important, Your safety.
Tides can come in so fast and cut off your escape route from the coast. Never ever underestimate them and always respect that the tide can be a devastating force that can carry you away in a heartbeat. I speak from past experience and frankly i'm lucky to be here still, I learned the hard way and it cost me a lot of moneys worth of camera equipment and a personal and healthy fear of the sea.
Never discount a shoot because of rain either, some of the best sunsets will come with rain and intense light, theres also a chance of a rainbow in there too.
So you now have great weather for your shoot, the tide is out and its all looking good, What next ? Do you know where the sun will come up ? Will it feature in your shot ? Or do you want to use the light instead of shooting into it ? All questions you need to think about and the answer is available in the form of the Photographers Ephemeris, This is a fantastic Web & App based program that will show you the position of the sun rising or setting on a certain day of your choice, In my mind it is essential and I use the information for every shot I take. Knowing where the sun will rise in relation to your position for your planned shot will give you the best chance of getting what you want out of it.
You can download the paid app from either Android or Apple or you can use for free the web based version which can be found at www.pho