12 steps to shoot a stunning sunset

Missisquoi Bay, Venise-en-Québec, Canada

Missisquoi Bay, Venise-en-Québec, Canada

  1. Plan your photo shoot - Plan your outdoor photo shoot ahead of time. Use an app to help you find the perfect light conditions, time and location. 

  2. Visit the location - Visit the location during the day to find the spot that will give you the winning composition.

  3. Arrive early - Get on the site at least 30 minutes before sunset. 

  4. Prepare your camera - Now it is time to set your camera. Read the steps below (6 and above).

  5. Stick to your location - Resist the temptation to change places. Relax and stay where you are. The sun will go down fast.

  6. Shoot in Raw - Set your camera to shoot in RAW format or in RAW+JPG. I generally shoot in RAW and process my files in Lightroom. For more information on the difference between RAW and JPG, read this article.

  7. Aperture Priority - Forget the manual mode. Make it simple: use the "Aperture Priority" mode and adjust the aperture to f/8 which is a safe value to get the whole scene in focus.

  8. ISO - Select a low ISO value from 100 to 200. Higher ISO values are unnecessary since you face the sun. Select a higher ISO if you need need higher speed values.

  9. Shutter speed - In "Aperture Priority" mode, the camera will adjust the shutter speed itself. Generally speaking, the shutter speed shall not be less than 1/60 sec to avoid blurry shots. If this is the case, gain speed by increasing ISO.

  10. Tripod? - You don't necessarily need a tripod but if you have then use it. If you don't, that's not a problem. You will have enough light to photograph the sunset handheld but check your shutter speed and keep it above 1/60 sec or higher if you zoom in.

  11. Exposure compensation - The most important point: OVEREXPOSE. Facing the sun, the camera will be fooled by so much light and will automatically underexpose. You must balance by overexposing intentionally. Use the exposure compensation dial to overexpose by 1 or 2 stops (check your user guide). You van learn more on exposure compensation here.

  12. Shoot and check the histogram - Check your camera histogram each time you take a picture. It will show you if your shots are correctly exposed. If you are serious, the histogram is a tool that you must learn to use. I do check the histogram each time I take a picture to find the optimum exposure settings. To learn more about the histogram, check your manual and read these articles here and there.

Sunset in Costa Rica

Sunset in Costa Rica