Our Blog

Home/ Blog/ Tips for Improving Sunrise and Sunset Photography

Tips for Improving Sunrise and Sunset Photography

August 26, 2015 11:41 am

In our last post, we shared some amazing photos of summer sunrises and sunsets to honor the beauty and warmth of summer. Now it’s time to inspire experienced and budding photographers further with some helpful tips to help capture the stunning colors and depth of the fiery orb as it enters and leaves the sky every day.

The good news is that you don’t need a fancy camera or expensive gear to capture the perfect sunrise or sunset, the bad news is that without interesting composition, your photos won’t stand out from the rest. If you’re someone who loves a challenge though, transforming a breathtaking dawn or dusk sky into a compelling photograph is a worthwhile endeavor.

Be prepared

This is a good motto to live by in general, but especially important when photographing sunrise and sunset. Be prepared to capture the moment by learning to predict a captivating dawn or dusk before it occurs. This takes practice and experimentation, but if you’ve ever witnessed the perfect sky and been dismayed that you didn’t have your camera ready, you know it’s worth the effort. Usually by the time you see a brilliant sunrise or sunset it’s too late because in the moments it takes to get your camera out and ready to go, you’ve already missed the perfect shot. Avoid this problem by choosing your location, setting up your camera and gear and patiently waiting for nature’s beauty to unfold.

Don’t rush it

As mentioned in the previous tip, patience is a requirement for shooting the ideal sunrise or sunset. Sometimes the best colors happen just before the sun rises or after the sun sets so wait patiently to capture the best colors in your photos. Watch for the richest colors of the event and be ready to press the shutter during the most vivid moments. As these moments may occur when it’s not fully light or already getting dark, use your tripod to compensate for the longer exposures required during less than ideal lighting.

Find an interesting foreground

No matter how beautiful a sunrise or sunset is, it’s not enough to just snap a photo of the colors in the sky and move on. For a truly outstanding dawn or dusk photo, you need to find an interesting foreground subject to give the image a focal point. As you’re setting up for the shoot, identify nearby objects that stand above the horizon such as buildings, trees or fences with shapes that create an intriguing silhouette against the sunrise or sunset background. The objects don’t need to fill up the entire picture, they just need to take up enough space to give your viewer something interesting to look at aside from the colorful sky.

Embrace color

When shooting a sunrise or sunset, it’s best to embrace color and ignore the rule of thirds that suggests the horizon need to be a third of the way from the top or the bottom of the image to create balance. As everything in the foreground of a sunrise or sunset is usually in silhouette, if you follow the rule of thirds, most of your image will be black. By ignoring the rule of thirds and letting the sky dominate the composition, you capture photographs full of color that direct attention to the beauty and depth of the moment.

Use nearby water

When you’re shooting near water, use it to enhance the effect and colors of the sunrise or sunset. Rather than stand far back to shoot, move right down to the edge of the water or the wet sandy area of the beach to capture the reflections of the sunrise or sunset and echo the amazing sky colors. By using the water, you enrich the color of the image and discover interesting composition possibilities.

By following a few simple tips to improve your sunrise and sunset photography, you can capture images that shine with more brilliance than the average grab and go passing shot of the first or last moments of the day. Increase your sensitivity to nature and your surroundings and don’t worry too much about the technical aspects as you focus on finding inspiration and expressing your unique creativity.

Display your sunrise and sunset photos with amazing color, depth, and vibrancy with Baboo Digital’s metal prints that give the image so much life, you can almost feel the sunlight.

Featured image by Chris Parker