If you’re interested in gaining or improving skills in the popular and fulfilling art of photography, there are many ways to do it. If it’s a professional career you want to pursue, there are myriad technical and creative degrees, for both beginners and those with some existing skills. However if you’re an amateur who simply wants to take better images, you may just want to sign up for a free online photography class to see if you want to take things further. But in truth, there’s no more effective way of improving than simply by picking up as many tips as you can and getting out there and practicing.
Capturing a stunning sunset image often depends on a great deal of luck as well as being in the right place with the right conditions. But there are certainly some very basic tips you can employ to make sure you give yourself the best possible chance of success. You can check out a free online photography class or two to cherry-pick some handy technical hints, but the ones below will give you a great head start.
Choose the Perfect Location
This might take a bit of research or even several trips out to a certain location, but a little bit of effort can go a long way. While of course, the focus will be on the colours of the sky in your images, it’s also very important to have a point of interest – something like a landmark, a person, a tree, or even a man-made structure in silhouette will add great drama to the scene.
Arrive on Time
This may seem obvious, but it’s so easy to miss the so-called ‘magic hour’ of wonderful light just before and after the sun goes down – and don’t be fooled into thinking it’s actually an hour! In truth you’ll have a window of about 15 minutes to capture the light at its very best. In the last few minutes as the sun sinks below the horizon, the landscape experiences a wonderfully warm, golden light and you can get some incredible images. However, it’s after the sun has actually disappeared that the sky is painted in spectacular fiery oranges and reds.
Use a Tripod
While many a magical sunset image has no doubt been captured on a hand-held camera or even a smartphone, you’ll have far more effective creative and technical freedom if you use a tripod. In such low light, using a much slower shutter speed will achieve fantastic results and also afford you the opportunity to gain stunning detail in your images. For even better results use a cable release as well to negate any camera shake at all.
Shoot in RAW
It’s all about the right exposure when it comes to sunset images, so if you set your camera to shoot in RAW you’ll have much more scope to do some tweaking when you’re editing. This is something you should consider experimenting with to see the results, as many amateur photographers think shooting in RAW is just for the professionals. A good tip is to set your camera to manual then choose a good middle-of-the-road aperture like f/8 and whatever the corresponding shutter speed your camera suggests. (This is where your tripod is particularly important.)
The beauty of digital cameras is that you have a virtual carte blanche when it comes to practicing your skills. Don’t be scared to just keep shooting as many frames as you can in the time you have. Employ the tips above, take some tips from a free online photography class or two (or three!) and you could be capturing masterpieces within a very short time.