How to Shoot Sunsets: 8 Different Ideas

A sunset is a spectacular moment in the day that nature shares, blooming deep rich hues before it plunges into the darkness. While the photograph above is a perfectly good example of a sunset in the Mediterranean sea in Alexandria, Egypt, it doesn’t think out of the box, making it look like the million other photographs people have taken of sunsets on the Internet. Thinking out of the box and taking a different approach to sunset photography is a learning process, one I find a lot of joy in. Here are my favorite 8 different ideas on how to shoot sunsets.

How to Shoot Sunsets #1. Include a heartbeat of the shot. A heartbeat can be anything that is alive with beating heart! From an animal to a human. It adds another dimension to the photograph; it tells a story. Like the three men in this photograph. I positioned the men on the left side of this shot while the sun was positioned on the other side, creating a balance to the story; man versus nature, for example.

How to Shoot Sunsets #2. A picture of a sunset doesn’t have to be a typical one. That’s why I don’t put my camera away if it’s going to be an overcast ending to the day. Clouds can add a dramatic effect to the scene, while the sun tries to peek through the clouds. Although you can’t see the sun setting clearly, the photograph displays an ambiance that tells a story or evokes an emotion. Including the small boat on the side of the photo also gives a depth to the photograph.

How to Shoot Sunsets #3. Add a foreground. It draws in the eye and adds a dimension to the photograph. If you look closely, there are people on the rocks watching the sunset. Again, this tells a story.

How to Shoot Sunsets #4. You don’t have to zoom in completely to shoot a sunset or shoot in a landscape orientation. Th portrait mode can work well with sunset shots too, while, again, adding a foreground avoids making the photograph one-dimensional or flat.

How to Shoot Sunsets #5. Silhouettes are one of the lovely things you can shoot during a sunset. These boats were floating peacefully while the sunset, silhouetted along with the rocks behind them. Pretty much everything can be a silhouette for your shot while the sun sets, including trees, people, fences, street lamps, umbrellas, and buildings.

How to Shoot Sunsets #6. Shoot during the golden hour, right before the sun sets. It creates a beautiful golden effect on everything it touches, turning the sea in this photograph into liquid gold. I also included a silhouette of swimmers in the sea to add depth to the photo and create a story. This example shows that you can add more than one idea in a sunset photograph, but not too many that it becomes too cluttered and chaotic. A picture of a sunset should have a calming, soothing effect as it does in reality.

How to Shoot Sunsets #7. Shoot an interesting subject on the horizon below the sun, leading the eye where the ball of fire is due to set. This creates a pathway for the eyes as it trails from the subject to the sun. If you’re lucky enough to catch a ship passing the sunset on the horizon, or perhaps a bird flying below it, snap away!

How to Shoot Sunsets #8. Play with props. My favorite prop to photograph during a sunset is the human hand, which creates an interesting silhouette. You can come up with many different types of poses while the optical illusion makes it look like you have the sun right in the palm of your hand.

If the sun isn’t set in the sea but in the mountains or over buildings where you are, you can still take a beautiful shot that marks the moment. The main thing is to be creative, revel in the special moment you are witnessing, and most importantly, have fun!

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