Capture The Perfect Sunset Picture In 10 Easy Steps

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If there is one image that everyone strives to take on their beach vacation, it’s the sunset photo. But it’s harder than it looks to capture all that beauty. Here it how to get the perfect sunset photo in 10 easy steps.

Underexposure. 

Darker sunset photos are more dramatic and the colors are rich. With a DSLR camera, switch to the manual mode and shoot with a faster shutter speed. Or, put it on aperture mode and use exposure compensation. With a smartphone, go to settings and change the exposure to a negative number. This is an easy way to make sure the sky and sun are not washed out.

The Rule of 3’s. 

Think about composition. Don’t put the horizon in the middle of the frame. Instead, put it on the lower third if the sunset is stunning, or the top third if it’s not. The better spot for the sun is on either side of the frame, not in the middle.

The Foreground. 

An instant improvement to your sunset picture is an interesting object in the foreground. It can be a pier, birds, or someone walking on the beach. You always know where the sun is going to be, so look for something to include in the foreground first.

Experiment with the Flash. 

Always use a flash if there is a subject in your picture, unless you don’t want to see their face. You can also experiment with using a flash in other landscape photos. The result may surprise you, with the foreground in focus, and the sky a blend of yellow and orange.

Clouds. 

Head to the beach on a cloudy or even drizzly day. That’s when the sky fills with hues of purple and red and when you’ll see some of the more dramatic sunsets. It requires a little luck, but to capture the most beauty, snap your photo the moment when the clouds part.

Second Sunset. 

Have you heard of the second sunset?! Do yourself a favor and don’t pack up and leave after the sun drops below the horizon. About 20 minutes after, the sky transforms into all sorts of colors, making for a great picture.

Silhouettes. 

Speed up the shutter speed to create a silhouette in the foreground. It’s a good idea to have a recognizable subject as your silhouette (palm trees, pier, etc). An easy way to create a silhouette on a smartphone is to tap the lightest part of the frame (like the sky, for example).

White Balance. 

A good rule to keep your photo well-balanced is to always keep the white balance on auto, whether the camera is a DSLR or a smartphone. When shooting sunsets though, try changing the white balance to shade. It will give the picture more golden tones. Change the white balance to flash for red tones.

Focus. 

The sky is a major part of every sunset photo, of course. But the sky can easily confuse your camera if you have it on auto-focus, because it’s not sure where to look. Change it to manual, and take the time to set your focus to snap a sharper photo.

Take off Sunglasses. 

Your sunset picture is always going to look darker than it actually is when wearing sunglasses. The LCD screen is also on the darker side. Be sure to take off your shades so there are no surprises when you look at your sunset photos on the computer at home.

So, that’s a lot to take in, but remember just a few of these pointers the next time you are on the beach during an epic sunset, and you’ll be racking up the Instagram likes in no time.


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Stephan Aarstol is an American internet entrepreneur and author of the book The Five Hour Workday, which is based on Tower Paddle Boards' invention of the 5-hour workday in 2015 that would eventually spread the idea to over 10 million people worldwide. Since founding Tower in 2010, it has gone on to become one of America's fastest growing companies and Mark Cuban's best investment in the history of Shark Tank. Tower has diversified into a direct to consumer electric bike company called Tower Electric Bikes, a beachfront event venue called Tower Beach Club, and NoMiddleman.com, where consumers can shop all the world's finest direct to consumer brands from one easy place.