Taking Pictures of Sunsets and Sunrises
The vivid colors in pictures of sunsets and sunrises can produce some of the most spectacular images that you may
photograph. As beautiful as they are, they are not too difficult to capture.
could cause permanent eye damage.
in the right place at the right time to photograph a
beautiful sunset or sunrise. There might be something
blocking the best view, or the sun will be setting "over
there" when you are "over here".
Take note of the approximate time the sun sets or rises
in your area. Then choose a location where you can get
an unobstructed view of the sky, horizon whatever you
want included in your sunset or sunrise picture.
Arrive early on the day you plan to take your pictures.
Remember that the most spectacular colors and tones
last for only about a half hour during the entire sunset
above the horizon similar to image #1 is great. However, you should not wait until the sun has risen above the
horizon to start taking sunrise pictures. Neither should you stop taking pictures immediately after the sun has
disappeared below the horizon in the case of a sunset.
You will find beautiful rich tones and colors in the sky for
a short period right after the sun sets below the horizon,
or before it begins to appear above the horizon during a
For example, picture # 2 was taken about 10 or 15
minutes before the sun began to appear on the horizon.
As you can see, there are some very interesting colors
and tones in the image even without the sun being in
Beaches, plains, and wide open areas are the best
places to take sunset and sunrises pictures.
While sunset or sunrise pictures taken at a beach or with some body of water included might be some of the most
popular scenes, distant mountains or even buildings with the sun setting around them can also be great shots.
Clouds in the sunrise or sunset pictures will usually make the image more interesting. Clouds can be wispy, puffy, or
scattered. No matter which type are there when you are taking the pictures, the sun's rays reflecting off the clouds
will produce different tones or colors among the clouds.
to make it more prominent.
Try to resist the urge to place the horizon line directly in the center of the frame when you are taking pictures of
sunsets or sunrises. If you want to emphasize the sky, place the horizon line somewhere around the lower third of
the frame. If you want to emphasize something like reflections of the sun on water, try placing the horizon closer to
the upper third of the frame.
No matter where you place the horizon line, try to keep it as level as possible. A slanted horizon might not look too
natural. Also try placing the sun in various positions that are not in the dead center of the frame. (if the sun is
included in your picture)
The tip about the placement of the horizon and the position of the sun in your image is part of the principle of the
Rule of Thirds. Check the Basic Picture Composition tutorial for more on this subject.
When taking sunrise/sunset pictures in wide open areas,try using objects like trees, birds, or even people in the
foreground as or background as silhouettes. This can add a little more interest to the overall picture. For instance,
picture # 3 uses the curved tree branch as sort of a partial frame. Picture #4 has 2 people in the foreground that
show as silhouettes.
All sunrise and sunset pictures don't have to be taken in the direct path of the sun. Look behind you or to your left
and right. The sun emits a warm glow that can make even ordinary scenes or objects more interesting.
Camera Exposure Settings. One good thing about photographing sunsets and sunrises is that there is not a "one
size fits all" correct" exposure setting. The strength of the light can change every couple of minutes as the sun
begins to set closer to the horizon or rises above it. Whether the sky is clear, or partially cloudy will also affect the
The exposure settings used for the pictures on this page are listed below each of the images to give you a broad
idea of what settings might be used for sunset/sunrise pictures.
rest of the scene. However, when it comes to sunset and sunrise pictures, a slightly under exposed image can
actually make the colors in the sky appear deeper and richer as you can see in picture #5.
On the other hand, depending on the strength of the light, objects in the scene may also be rendered as dark,
almost black silhouettes as shown in picture #6.
actually was when the pictures were taken. Take a look at picture #7. Part of the lower portion of the image is
somewhat dark. Yet the sky above the cloud is light.
around the horizon, there will be some warm deep colors in your pictures.
The best way get started taking your sunset/sunrise pictures is to take a test shot in the automatic or a semi-
automatic mode. If your picture is too light or too dark, use your camera's Exposure Compensation EV+- feature to
quickly lighten or darken your image. Try not to lighten scenes with the sun included by too much. You may "blow
out" (overexpose) the sun and the area around it.
Nikon CoolPix L30 , you will not be able to manually
choose specific lens aperture and shutter speed settings.
However, using the exposure compensation feature will
cause the camera to automatically choose lens aperture
and shutter speed settings that will lighten or darken
Additionally, if you use the camera's sunset/sunrise
shooting mode, the camera will choose settings that will
enhance the warm color tones in the scene.
similar to the Canon T5i, using the camera's
semi-automatic("P") Program Mode might be an option
to consider. That way you can let the camera choose the lens aperture and shutter speed settings while you
concentrate on composing the scene in the best way possible. You will still be able to control just about all of the
other camera features and settings while in the Program Mode.
trying to accomplish, then by all means use your Manual, Aperture Priority, or Shutter Priority mode.
start out by using a lower ISO number such as ISO 100 or 200. Those settings should keep the digital camera
"noise" in your images to a minimum. Use the higher ISO numbers like ISO 800 and above only when necessary.
work together to produce good exposures for your images.
Should you use a Tripod? Generally, sunset or sunrise pictures taken when the sun is above the horizon won't
require you to use a tripod. The light from the sun is so strong that relatively fast shutter speeds (1/60 Sec. or
higher) can be used. That will decrease the chance of blurred pictures due to camera shake.
In those cases, check the shutter speed that you are
using. If it is less than 1/60 second, you might need to
use a tripod to avoid blurred pictures.
This will allow a faster shutter to be used and you might
still be able to hand hold the camera without getting blur
from camera shake.
problem. Just let your camera use its automatic focusing
mode. However, sometimes the auto focus will not work
when you point at the sky. In that case, focus on a
distant object somewhere else in the frame.
Hold that focusing point, re-compose your picture and take the shot. If you are using a Digital SLR camera you can
use the manual focus feature or just set the focusing distance to infinity. (that is as long as you are far enough from
or vivid as what you see with your eyes. In those cases try changing your camera's White Balance setting to cloudy
or shade. That setting will make the color tones in your images warmer.
everything else in life, it might take a little practice. One thing you can be sure of is that the sun and elements of the
atmosphere will provide you with an unlimited variety of colors and tones to take pictures of every day.