One of the most common themes I get asked by students in my workshops are how did I capture that particular sunset image. I’ve decided to break some tips down into manageable pieces that will be good for photographers of different skill levels and using a variety of equipment, including phones.
I’m not really a sunset specialist but we all love a sunset and I appreciate how the thought of sunset makes you get out and enjoy the outdoors regardless of the outcome.
TIP 1 – The Golden Moment
My first tip for photographers of all levels is to pay particular attention to the Golden Moment in lieu of fiddling around with the entire Golden Hour. This moment is precisely where where atmospheric haze has reduced the sun’s intensity to an exposure level that more matches the foreground.
During the Golden Moment you’ll be able to meter and shoot more into the sun, take a single exposure, and more accurately record everything in the shot without having to sacrifice (as much) on the sun our your other subjects. Shortly after is also very good as you move closer to the after glow. How long this moment lasts and where the sun actually is relative to the horizon depends on where you are and how much moisture (haze) there is in the atmosphere.
How far you can venture before or after this Golden Moment will depend on the quality of your camera, more specifically the quality and size of your camera’s sensor and processor.
Always experiment with metering on a few different places in the sky as each will give you a slightly different exposure. Images captured in RAW give you even better results and the best sunset images you see almost always employ some degree of post processing magic to make them the best they can be.
How well you are able to capture the “after glow” of a sunset largely depends on the quality of your camera’s image sensor.
With some practice you can become very proficient at shooting sunsets with any camera shooting JPGs or Raw including your phone which is more limited in low lighting conditions do to the tiny sensor.