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4 Top Tips On Photographing Sunsets Like A Pro

How do professional photographers get exposures spot-on in their sunset photos? This tutorial will give you all of the answers you need to capture perfect sunsets every time.

|  Landscape and Travel
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So, you see a fantastic orange sunset, you take the picture and the sky is too bright or the ground is too dark and you stand looking confused at your camera's screen wondering what you did wrong... don't worry, though, it's actually a common scenario many photographers find themselves in and that's why our friends The School of Photography have put this top tutorial together. 

To capture that perfect sunset shot you need to get your exposures right and these 4 top tips from The School of Photography should help with that. 

 

Why is it hard to expose correctly for sunsets?

The quickest explanation is that the sky is brighter than the foreground, around 2-stops brighter in fact, so you either end up with a shot that has foreground detail but no sunset colours in the sky or a lovely sky but not foreground detail. To fix this, you need to balance the exposure which you can do several different ways, four of which are explained below. 

 

1. Use Graduated ND Filters 

Using grad filters involves putting a filter in front of the lens to darken the sky without affecting the foreground. This is done using a filter holder that attaches to the front of the lens. A Grad ND filter darkens the scene gradually from the top to the bottom so is perfect for balancing out sunset shots.

We have an essential guide to using filters that features top tips on using grad ND filters where you'll find a more detailed explanation of how they work and the types that can be purchased. 

 

2. Take Two Photos & Merge Them Together

If you take one image exposed correctly for the ground and one image correctly exposed for the sky you can merge them together in Photoshop (or other similar programs), by layering them up with the bright sky on top and mask through the bright sky to reveal the darker sky underneath. 

 

 

Sunset

 

3. Experiment With HDR Photography

By shooting an HDR image manually you'll be capturing a series of exposures, known as a bracket, that will be combined into one image that has a better dynamic range (highlights and shadow detail). Once you have a set of images that cover the scene's full contrast range you can open the exposures on your computer in Photoshop or in an HDR software program such as Eclipse HDR from inPixio. 

 

4. Shoot In RAW 

As a RAW file has the most information you can get from a photo, you'll be able to pull a lot more detail from the shadow and highlight areas of an image. You can edit RAW files in Photoshop as well as dedicated RAW software. 

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