How to get nice sunset photos !


It is during these transitional periods in spring and autumn when days are neither too short nor too long, that it is the easiest moment to make beautiful pictures of sunsets. Indeed, the golden hours or just after when the sun is just hidden are great opportunities to shoot!

The colors are warm ranging from yellow, golden, orange, red, the shadows are long on the ground which allows to generate depth and a natural atmosphere to the photo.


Which image do you want to obtain?

No need to be ultra-precise here, I explain myself; You just found the right place, the right composition and you want to shoot straight into the sun and get beautiful sunrays … But at that time, it turns out that everything is there except the general atmosphere, which is not as flamboyant red gold than you would have liked !! But 3 minutes later the sun touching the horizon, you lose the rays of the sun but then, you have “Golden Hour” this famous golden hour where the atmosphere is on fire! You are on the field, undecided at the moment, there will be a choice to make … It’s not quite the ideal sunset that you had planned, all the desired elements are not gathered at the same time but you know you have a sunset ..

Here, I propose to stay well positioned, and shoot regularly every step, to have the choice once in post-production. (carefull, sometimes this time passes very quickly). The rendering on the big screen or printed once back home is not the same as in the field. A few days later, with a little hindsight, finally the picture with the sunrays is not so good, (certainly improvement possible with a bit of post-production) but the one with the sun hidden and the atmosphere “Golden Hour” really makes it better.

Morality, do not pack anything before the night is well installed. The 5 minutes after sunset can be the best !!! And not to be too rigid in the sought photo. Sometimes events and a little spontaneity do things well


As described above, your goal is to photograph the sunset. It is therefore the sunset that you must expose properly. He is your message. I advise you to aim just above or right next to the sun by pressing the shutter button halfway. Hold the shutter button down halfway, recompose your image to the desired composition. In fact, holding the shutter button down halfway will lock the exposure. Once the framing suits you : shoot. Normally the exposure of your twilight should be perfect.

NB: there is on some digital device, a specific key to lock the exposure for several seconds. This provides the ability to focus on one subject and using another zone of the image for the exposure.

Canterburry street
Canterburry street, England, Kent


Not at all obvious, especially in landscape photography, photographers undergo light and can not master it like in a studio. We can only deal with it. But it is our duty as a photographer to look for the best quality of light. Only after, comes the subject to photograph. Having a good light is,  relatively homogeneous and diffuse, like under a cloudy sky or just after a sunset. Indeed, in these moments, the transitions between shadows and highlights are not violent but soft and degraded, and it is these gradients that give this warm and romantic atmosphere.

You can also play hide and seek with the clouds, to modulate the shadows, the contrast of the sunlight etc. In addition, a moderately cloudy sky during a sunset gives a lot of character and depth to a picture.

NB: some photographer (of which I am part) will prefer to photograph a sunset with a minimum azimuth, in order to obtain long shadows and sun rays still present. This, in order to obtain a depth, a natural three-dimensional effect.


This is not a place where you choose to take a picture of a sunset, that you are forbidden to have an interesting subject. On the contrary. The sunset and the sky will give the atmosphere of the image, but the subject will provide the story, the message to the observer. It is necessary that the observers of your image can in a second identify the subject, and therefore your message. The whole photo will then, communicate the emotion.

In addition, when possible, try to find a foreground, especially if you shoot at wide angle, large spaces. A point of interest in the foreground, allows to hang the observer and then he will travel through your image.

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge at sunset, London


Here I would advise you to focus on the subject on which you want to communicate and as much as possible this subject placed 1/3 of the depth of your photo. To get a good sharpness throughout your photo, a simple trick (to avoid calculating the hyperfocal etc. ..) is to close your aperture on f/16 see f/22 if you have a very good objective. Then focus to 1/3 on the depth of your image. This will have a sharp image 1/3 before the focus and 2/3 after the focus, in other words on your entire image.

The bonus here is that with this opening, the optical effect will create rays of light whether on the sun or any other source of lighting.

Here I hope that these tips will allow you to make beautiful pictures of sunset, and to immortalize some memories of holidays.

See you soon on Dragonstreet Photography,


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