Sunrise and sunset photography

19 min read

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Danutza88's avatar
Dear deviants,

Here I am, up to some new useful journals:iconcheerplz: Thanx to Diangos and his beautiful Christmas present, I can keep making them.

Given the fact that many of us might have problems taking shots during sunrises or sunsets, let's talk about this issue today.


P.S. Don't forget I don't write the articles, I just choose the photos to stand as examples. See article reference at the end of the journal.



1. Think Ahead

While sometimes wonderful sunrise and sunset shots can be taken spontaneously without any forethought it's often the case that the best ones come out of planning. Scope out places that might be good for sunsets in the day or two before your shoot. Look for interesting places where you might not only be able to see the sun track all the way down but where there will be opportunities for shots that include foreground elements and silhouettes. Sunsets only take half an hour or so so you want to think about these elements before they start or you might miss the shots you're after.

Sunset by MaraDamian sunset by S-moon
Sunset Silhouette by andrewapuya Sunset by giacomoburattini
Sunset by O-Gosh sunrise by noobs

Find out when the sun will set or rise and get there at least half an hour before hand as it's often in the lead up to and the time after the sun appears or disappears that the real magic happens.

A Painters Sunset by kkart Summers Golden Glow by kkart
A cold sunset by JoInnovate Sunset by ak87

2. Keep an eye on the weather also.

There are a variety of different types of sunsets that produce a range of different types of lights and patterns in the sky. Don't just go for clear days for these shots – while they can produce some wonderful colors it's usually the times where there is cloud around that the real action happens! Also be aware of days when there is dust or smoke in the air as they can produce amazing results also.

Sunrise by MartinDay empty sunrise by br3h
A Slowdown For a Sunrise by kkart Sunrise Silhouette2 by AdARDurden
Tuscan Sunrise by samuelbitton Sunrise Tree by Hassan9
Lake at sunset HDR 05 by ScorpionEntity :thumb21365509:

3. Consider ahead of time what equipment you might need. Include a tripod, lenses that will give you a range of focal lengths, extra batteries etc.

4. Shoot at a variety of focal lengths

Wide angle can create sweeping landscape shots but if you want the sun itself to be a feature of the shot you'll want to be able to zoom right in. Zooming in will increase your need for a tripod!

Sunset by nereidi Into the Sunset by metallilan sunset 57 by revrendwilliam
Sunset by eyesweb1 Finding your place in the sun by MorkelErasmus:thumb98879912:
Uskz by Al-Baum Ixor by Al-Baum

5. Silhouettes as focal points

As with all photos, sunsets need a point of interest and one of the best ways to add one to a picture is to try to incorporate some sort of Silhouette into the shot. This could be something large like a mountain range, something that is part of the environment like a palm tree or a pier or could even be a person. The great things about Silhouettes is that they add mood and context to a sunset or sunrise shot. I'll write more on silhouettes in a future article.

Vietnam Silhouette by Spanishalex Backlit Stag At Dawn by nitsch:thumb72774674:
Sunrise windsurfing by blindrider Silhouette Paddle Surf Boys by La-Vita-a-Bella
White Ibis Silhouette by datfly Silhouette by onccuu

6. Rule of thirds

Remember the rule of thirds in your photographing of sunrises and sunsets. While you can always break the rule it's often a good idea to place elements like the horizon, sun, silhouettes etc off centre.

Back Home Before Sunset by Hassan9 sunset silhouette by asininechani
Mara Tree Sunrise by MrStickman Sunrise by Stridsberg

7. Shoot at a variety of exposures

If you let your camera decide what shutter length to shoot at you're likely to get a shot that doesn't really capture the beauty of the light. Quite often the shot will be under exposed because the sky is still reasonably light.

Instead of relying upon the camera's auto mode a sunset is an ideal time to switch your camera into aperture or shutter priority mode and to take a variety of shots at different exposures.

The great thing about sunsets and sunrises is that there is no one 'right' exposure and that you can get stunning results using a variety of them. Also keep in mind that different exposures (aperture and shutter speeds) will produce a variety of different results so it's worth taking more than just a few shots – the key is to experiment.

Spanish Sunset by adamsalwanowicz The Winter Sunrise Dock by kkart
Harbor of my Dreams by erezmarom Whitby Pier at sunset by kharashov
Liquid Dance by Inebriantia Kinesis by Inebriantia A Fiery Dawn by kkart

8. Take camera out of Auto White balance mode

when you set your camera to 'Auto' in it's white balance mode you run the risk of losing some of the warm golden tones of a sunrise or sunset. Instead try shooting in 'cloudy' or 'shade' which are usually used in cooler lights and tell your camera to warm things up a little. Alternatively – if you're shooting a sunrise and DO want a cooler moody shot you can experiment with other white balance settings.

Fisherman and Sunset by WindyLife :thumb191559695: :thumb101153914:

[Info taken from… ]


To take sunrise or sunset pictures,  you should preferably have the following minimum photographic equipment:

    * A decent camera
    * A tripod, or steady place to rest your camera

    * PLUS: Some photography experience - though time will provide this.
    * A keen eye for a picture - again practice will improve this.
    * A certain amount of luck.
    * And not least of all, a lot of patience!

Problems you will invariable encounter include:

    * Artificial lights - the longer the exposure the greater their diffusion will ruin your photograph.

    * Traffic headlights. (Though these can enhance a shot, for example – their motion can produce long streams of attractive colourful light.)

    * Strong/gusting winds that rock your tripod and ruin your shot. (Wrong kind of motion!)

    * Extreme temperatures that affect your equipment and you!

    * And the general public, who love to stand directly in front of whatever it is you are trying to photograph.

[Info taken from… ]

© 2011 - 2021 Danutza88
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BlackFireOpal's avatar
Thank you so much for this (:
La-Vita-a-Bella's avatar
Thanks so much for the feature! :blowkiss:
Danutza88's avatar
You're welcome!:huggle:
eyesweb1's avatar
This is an honor for me, my friend .. Thanks a lot .. :hug:
Danutza88's avatar
:aww: It was my pleasure. Your photo is really good if it got up here:hug:
aripi's avatar
Useful, wonderful!! :)
br3h's avatar
thanks for adding one of my works here..
great gallery.... love it so much..
Danutza88's avatar
:aww: You're welcome!
JoInnovate's avatar
thx for the feature, nice collection and all the tips are helpful for people who want to make good sunset/sunrise pictures!
Danutza88's avatar
That was the point:D Mission accomplished then;) You're welcome!
O-Gosh's avatar
Amazing photos. It is such an honour to be included. Thank you so much :hug:
Danutza88's avatar
:aww: You're welcome!:hug:
Diangos's avatar
I'm glad to see you using your subscription for the general good. :hug:
Danutza88's avatar
Well, it's always been like this. You just helped me extend that;)
BellaElizabethLarsen's avatar
Very nice... But I don't even have a decent camera... I always liked sunrises and sunsets, I tried to capture the sunrise in Tunisia, at the beach, but you remember how that turned out... Oh, well, maybe in a few years... Because it's going to be YEARS before I can afford a REAL, QUALITY camera... Anyway, I wish someone gave me a subscription... :P Thanks for the journal! :D
Danutza88's avatar
Well, it's the same in my case but that didn't stop me from posting this for the ones who have a better camera, dear!:huggle:
KayArneJohansen's avatar
thank you very much :) very nice btw :D beautiful feature
Danutza88's avatar
I'm happy you like it:D You're welcome:D
revrendwilliam's avatar
thank you so much for adding my photo to a wonderful tutorial
Danutza88's avatar
You're very much welcome:D
AdARDurden's avatar
So Cool !! Thank you very much for featuring my sunrise pic with the rest of these amazing photos !!! I am honored !! :)
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