Thursday, February 25, 2016

How to Photograph Sunsets and Get It Right

Unedited Sunset from One Liberty Observation Deck, Philadelphia, PA

Here's the garble-de-gook 
on taking a sunset photo. 

I don't typically shoot in manual 
because I would just use the camera's meter to set my settings - 
so why not let the camera set it 
saving me the step?
Instead, I shoot in either Aperture or Shutter/Time Priority 
and let the camera select the alternate setting for a properly exposed image. 
For example:
If I select the aperture setting, I let the camera select the shutter speed. 
If I select the shutter speed, I let the camera select the aperture setting.

When in a pinch, 
like when I don't like the camera's selection, 
I use Exposure Compensation to adjust the camera's settings. 

It's quicker that switching to manual. 

In the case of a sunset, 
the camera almost always over-exposes the image 
giving a washed out look. 

To compensate for the camera 
not understanding that I am shooting a sunset, 
this is my quick fix: 

How To Get Rich Sunsets in Camera
1. Frame the sky above the sunset with the viewfinder. 
2. Press the focus button 1/2 way, 
it doesn't need to focus at this point 
you just want the meter reading. 
3. Hold your exposure lock button (*on Canon; AE-L on Nikon) 
to maintain that meter reading.  
4. Recompose/refocus over the sunset keeping 
the meter lock button held down.
5. Fire at will. 
Your colors will be true-not washout out. 

*Once you release the meter lock button, 
those settings will be released also. 

I do shoot in manual when the lighting is the same 
and always when using studio strobes. 


Tamar SB said...

Great tips and stunning shot!

MadSnapper said...

thank you, my little canon doesn't have it but my Nikon does and i did a few practice shots holding the button and it works really great. i took a few shots of the TV colors and it workedon that to.

Kim Cunningham said...

This is rich and lovely. It's hard to get great sky shots here in GA as the pines are always covering the view.

Laurie said...

Thanks for sharing your tips. I'll have to really study this and give it a try.

Unknown said...

Oh spot on, I use the same techniques, AV or TV mode, then exposure compensation to fine tune. The only thing I would add is that I usually use the 'white balance' to bring the colours to my liking, I rarely use manual other than in the studio.. That's a lovely picture..

Sarah Huizenga said...

I always fought manual mode, but when I went to Pennsylvania in October, I switched for the week, and I haven't switched back. Needless to say I am quite surprised with myself. There is still time to go back I guess, but now I have gotten use to it.

Molly said...

That is a stunning shot and thank you for the little guide. I shall give these a go