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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Why Every Serious (And Not So Serious) Photographer Should Have A Photo Book

Being a photographer means sharing your work with the world. And what better way than with a hard copy of your photography. I was always asked how my work could be viewed during conferences, parties, even at family gatherings. And although I have an online portfolio, it wasn"t ’t always guaranteed that those who asked would find the time or even remember visiting my site. But a photo book that was always conveniently stored in my bag for those who asked – and even those who didn’t ask – ensured that I created an awareness about my love for photography, and more importantly, my ability as a photographer.

For when the conversation dies down during a gathering with relatives, a dinner party with family, or a meet-up with friends at the cafe, I have found that taking out my photo books is such an ice-breaker and conversation starter. People generally love looking at photographs and whole conversations have started with describing where each photograph was taken, or the story behind them, or the techniques I used to achieve a certain look. Photographs often spark memories from those viewing them which also creates unique conversations.

It also gets the word out that you are a talented photographer. It opens up opportunities you wouldn’t have necessarily achieved on your own. It’s a form of networking because people know people who know people who might be interested in taking your photography to the next level. “I know someone who works at a magazine who will love your photos,” a friend would say. “I know someone who has been looking for a photographer for her new website,” a relative would recall. After seeing your work, people will remember you if they meet the right people, and if they are good friends, they will even introduce you to them.

During job interviews where examples of your work are needed, photo books are also an impressive way to show your potential boss not only your skills but how organized and serious you are about showcasing your work in such a format. Not only do you get to see their expression as they flip through the pages, but questions can arise and explanations can be given– dialogue one can’t have with people viewing an online portfolio.

But photo books don’t have to be about professional photographs, creating awareness, networking, and portfolios. It’s also a fantastic way to store your memories in a book that looks like it’ll hit the bookstores next week. Often people ask me if a book publisher has created my books. I laugh and tell them, yes and no, and point them to blurb.com. All I had to do was download their free software, choose a ready-made layout according to the theme of my book (you could make a cookbook for example, and you’ll find a recipe template all ready for you), choose the size of my book and how many pages I wanted. The hard part is choosing which photographs to include.

And you don’t have to own a professional camera to create a photo book, or even a point and shoot camera. People have been using their Instagram photos to create mini photo books, which they’ve taken from their mobile phones. Owners of point and shoot cameras have created photo books commemorating the first year since the birth of their first-born child, or their summer vacations, each book labeled by year and prettily stored on their bookshelf. The advantages of creating a photo book rather than a scrapbook are that children (or relatives who really have their eye on a photograph) can’t take out the photos! Time and time again I have seen missing photos from so many albums that my relatives or friends happen to share. Even in these cases, putting them in your bag to show to your friends at work or while having coffee at the cafe, or with your family when they come round, is a beautiful way to share your memories.

One of the most convenient things about creating a photo book is the cost. Choosing the quality of the paper; whether the photo book is a hardcover, has a dust jacket; or is just softcover; selecting the quality of the end sheets; and how many pages you want are all factors which decide the cost of the photo book on blurb.com and presumably other photo book sites.

To go into detail, my large 30x30cm hardcover square book from blurb.com, (photographs #6 and#7), has 50 pages of the Premium Paper, luster finish and cost 48 Sterling Pounds. My standard hardcover landscape book (photographs #1-#5), with the ProLine Pearl Photo Paper, has 40 pages and cost 33 Sterling Pounds. This all excludes the shipping fees.

So for the serious (and not so serious) photographer, photo books aren’t just an affordable and convenient way to showcase one’s work, it’s also a timeless tradition and a perfect way to share your precious memories with friends and family.

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