While on a trip to Florida's panhandle, I took several photos of the mesmerizing sunsets that regularly decorate the horizon. The sun melting into the Gulf of Mexico as the fireball illuminated the clouds was a sight to behold. But when I reviewed the images on my laptop, the images were not reflective of what I saw in person. Other than wildlife and landscape scenes, photos of sunsets are one of the most desired by campers and hikers.
Unfortunately, most photos of sunsets captured by amateurs do not do the scene justice, but with a few adjustments to sunset photographing techniques, amazing photos can be created. Give the following tips a try to improve your sunset photos for your camping and hiking adventures scrapbook.
- Photographing a sunset at its best requires a bit of timing. The window of opportunity for the best color and effect lasts approximately 20 minutes — 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after the sun sets.
- Use a tripod. After the sun sets, the light will be low, so putting the camera on a slower shutter speed is required. Any movement of the camera will destroy the crispness of the photo. If you forget your tripod at home, or in the vehicle and you don't have time to hike back and retrieve it, change to a faster ISO speed, such as ISO 800.
- Creating composition and perspective. To better impress the viewer of your sunset photo, include an object in the foreground to put the sunset in perspective. When using a person to achieve this, keep them close to the camera. If within reach of your flash, use the flash to highlight the person or object. Doing this will add color and show what was happening while you were enjoying the sunset, which tells the story. To add a sense of mystery or solitude of the object in the foreground, leave the flash off to cause a silhouette.
- Turn around. The best light for photography occurs during the first couple of hours after the sun comes up and a couple of hours before it goes down. During this time the light is soft and the natural colors of nature are most vivid. So while you're standing there soaking up the sun as it bids farewell until tomorrow, a picture-perfect opportunity is developing behind you, such as a darkening maroon sky enveloping a forest edge, glowing with a fading pink color cast upon the trees.