How to take a beautiful sunset photo (with an example)

First published:
October 9, 2023
Updated:
May 20, 2024

How to take a beautiful sunset photo (with an example)

First published:
October 9, 2023
Updated:
May 20, 2024

With their myriad of colours & possibilities for dramatic silhouetted scenes, sunrises & sunsets are some of the most popular subjects for photography... here's how to get a stunner!

For many newbie and hobbyist photographers, sunset is the most accessible time to take pictures compared to sunrise (but equally, shouldn't be missed). Tou can get out there with your camera while doing other tasks, such as taking an evening walk with the dog.

Below, you’ll see my top tips for sunset photography for those just getting started, along with a short breakdown of one of my own sunset pictures. Which I hope gives you a good idea of how you can create a stunning shot of your own, too!

The story behind my sunset image (below)

A straightforward one, really. On holiday in Gran Canaria, I stopped by a lighthouse towards the end of the day (my intended subject for photography), but then noticed the incredible sunset coming over the horizon at the water's edge, along with some clouds which were adding to the drama in the scene.

With some striking mountains in view, too, it made the ideal recipe for a beautiful sunset shot; so I stood at the waters edge and took a series of images.

This one is my favourite from the edit:

Location: Agaete, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Camera: Fuji X-T30

Time and date: 11 January 2023, 19:30

Notes on the image at the time of shoot:

- I pointed the camera toward the sun, and I kept the horizon line low in the frame to emphasise the clouds in the sky; a common compositional technique that also gives the scene a sense of scale.

- I made sure to include the mountains in the frame and also some detail in the water–to keep some interesting elements in the foreground

- I focused my camera on the mountains in the background which helped me ensure the whole scene was in focus

Did I edit my image afterwards?

Yes, but only a little!

As a rule of thumb, always try to keep editing minimal and concentrate on getting it right in-camera. Below you'll see the before-and-after imags, along with some short notes on the adjustments I made. You can make these types of edits in pretty much any type of image-editing software; from Lightroom and Affinity to free editing suites you'll find online.

Original image

Final edited version

How did I edit my image?

- I "cooled the image down" - what I mean by this, is I added some blue and cyan  to the image to balance out the colours. Sunset images can often turn out too "orange" and actually adding cooler tones to the image can amplify the colours in the sunset scene

- I straightened the horizon so it's aesthetically-pleasing on the eye and makes the image look a lot neater

- I lightened shadows in image very slightly, so that I could bring out more detail in those areas
Top tips taking photos of sunsets:

- Check the weather beforehand, your best sunset shots are going to be on partly cloudy days, because you'll get beautiful shapes and colours in the sky

- Make sure you’ve got some foreground interest and not just a picture of the sun in the sky, it can look really boring

- When you focus on your scene, double-check that the shot is in focus and sharp. This can be tricky with sunset images, so focus on something solid in the frame

- Keep any horizon line straight so the image is aesthetically pleasing to the eye

- A little enhancement can go to a long way but don't overdo it! It's common that sunset images can come out a bit overly warm (orange and yellow) at times so adding cool tones will help bring out more of the scene

- Adding more contrast to sunset images in post production can help them look a lot more punchy and emphasise any silhouettes

Final thoughts

I hope you've found the above tips and information useful for creating your own sunset shot! Once you've got one you love, remember to upload it to your Picfair Store so the world can see it!

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