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Camera Settings for the Perfect Sunset Pictures

Image by Darren Baker. Although I have traveled the African continent extensively throughout my life, this particular photo—featuring an African model wearing genuine African clothing—was actually shot in the UK. This location is a favorite of mine because it is high on the top of a hill and has a field that stretches across to the west, where the sun sets.

I had visited the location many times in the run-up to the shoot, waiting for the crops to turn the perfect shade of gold. I penciled a window of a few days into my diary, watched the weather, and had the kit all pre-prepared and ready to go. On the chosen day, we got to the location about an hour before I wanted to start shooting, checked out a few positions for the model, and waited for the sun to make its way down toward the horizon. By the time the sun had disappeared, I was fortunate enough to get some great images, heading home to my own bed at the end of the day. With the so-called golden hour, as the name would suggest, you have about an hour or so of good light, but you only have about twenty minutes or so of the fabulous low sun that you need for a shot like this one.

The color of the reflector makes a big difference; if you use a pure silver reflector, you are going to cool down the reflected light, so white, gold, or a mixed surface style are better choices for these warmer pictures. Finally, shoot RAW. This is a picture of my wife and me. The appointment was scheduled for just after sunset, so we were able to shoot during the golden hour.

Sunset Photography Camera Settings for Beginners

Find inspiration in your surroundings. The key is to use available light to your advantage. I always like trying out different styles using natural light, softboxes, and reflectors. Instagram Instagram. This was actually a spontaneous moment. I was driving home with the model after a different shoot, and we saw this beautiful field on the way. We decided to take a couple of shots right then and there, and we also planned for another session at this location.

That way, you can control all your settings to depending on the light. We chose this field as our location, in part because of its tall, dry grass, which enhanced the golden sunset glow. The image was part of a larger shoot showcasing this denim outfit.


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The best time for making photos like this is about thirty to sixty minutes before sunset. When it comes to shooting at sunset, the more practice and experience you have, the better. The location also matters, of course. I sometimes use post-processing for that magical golden effect. The most important thing is choosing the right location. If possible, explore the area in person before your shoot.

If not, look carefully at pictures by other photographers. Nowadays, you can download your choice of mobile app to track the sun and plan ahead for that golden light. For me, backlight is ideal, as I like to have a narrow silhouette line separating the model from a warm, hazy background. I collaborated with my favorite model for this shoot, and she did the styling herself.

I placed her in a narrow sunbeam passing between houses. I chose a blurred and underexposed background because there were a lot of people and other distracting elements, and I wanted to focus only on the model. I like the contrast between the warm tones on her face and the cool colors in the background. Remember that light helps you tell a story, so it should change based on the mood you want to convey.


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  • By Jane Bardon. ABC Kimberley. Photo: A pre-cyclone sunset in Broome captured by award-winning Kimberley photographer Pamela Jennings. Supplied: Pamela Jennings. Photo: Knowing how to use your camera is key to achieving good results. Photography terms Histogram — A graphical representation of the brightness of an image. ISO — The measure of the sensitivity of film or a digital sensor to light.

    The higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera will be to light. F-stops indicate how big an opening you're leaving in your camera to allow light through the lens. Shutter speed — Measurement of time that a camera's shutter is open, allowing light to strike a photosensitive surface, like film or a digital sensor.

    Capturing the Sunset Quotes by Victoria Kahler

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    Tips & Tutorials

    Like any subject, when photographing sunsets there is some trial and error involved. Does your camera have an HDR mode? A strong neutral density filter ND is also really helpful for taking long exposure pictures of sunsets. This filter mounts to your lens and reduces the amount of light coming in.

    A stop ND filter, for instance, reduces the amount of light by about times.


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    • It can take some trial and error to find the right combination of exposure settings, but using an ND filter to shoot long exposures of sunsets really helps you capture vital details in the dark foreground, while not blowing out the strong, bright colours in the background. Next, dial in a slow shutter speed. Depending on light levels and the strength of your ND filter, this could be anywhere from 5secs all the way up to 30secs. Then set the lowest ISO value possible.

      There are a number of accessories you can buy that will make the job of photographing a sunset all the more easier. The app will tell you the precise time that the sun will set, and at what angle, for any location and date.

      Setting up your camera to photograph sunsets

      This makes a tripod perhaps the most essential accessory for photographing a sunset. A sunset filter not only enhances the warm glow of a sunset, but it can also help you solve those exposure problems you get from really bright skies. LEE makes an excellent set of Sunset filters, which consists of red, yellow and orange grads.

      Know your gear

      And though you may have the sturdiest of tripods, the slightest movement could cause vibrations that spoil your shot. There are two elements that are especially important for good landscape photography, colour and dynamic range. Despite its high pixel count Further good news is that the A7R III also has excellent colour reproduction and its small size for a full-frame camera makes it an appealing option for landscape photographers.