Capturing Summer Sunsets With Your Pentax Camera

Here are a few tips to help you capture stunning summer sunsets.

19/07/2013 - 00:00


Sculpture
Photo by Peter Bargh. 

Sunsets are a popular photographic subject and when you look at the captivating colours a sunset can produce, it's easy to understand why. You've probably captured a quick snap as the sun sets while on your travels but with a little bit of planing and a few simple techniques your quick snap can be transformed into something much more memorable.


When And Where

You probably know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and what time it sets will depend on the time of the year but you should also take into consideration what degree the sun will be setting at. Like the time, this changes throughout the year but it can mean the difference between capturing a cracking sunset at the coast or further inland. You can purchase a sunrise / sunset compass which will help you determine where the sun will be setting more accurately. Various calculators are also available online which will do the calculations for you.

If you don't already have a shoot location in mind have a look through the Pentax user gallery for inspiration then remember to arrive at your chosen location with plenty of time to spare before the sun begins to set. This is so you're not rushing to set up your equipment while the sun is setting and as a result miss an excellent photographic opportunity.

The best colours tend to appear as the sun dips under the horizon and can decorate the sky for quite some time after the sun has set so it's always worth staying put to capture the changing colours and patterns in the sky.

What If I'm Using A Compact?

Many compacts, including the Pentax Optio range, feature a sunset mode which help saturate sunset colours. This mode also lets the camera know that you want to use a small aperture (large f number) to give your image front-to-back sharpness.

Even though you're using a compact do still use a tripod as light levels will be low so a support will help minimise shake. You should also consider using the self-timer function as this will mean you're not touching the camera as the exposure begins, again minimising the chances of shake creeping into your images.

Boosting Colours With A DSLR

You can alter the white balance setting of your camera to cloudy and this will enhance the sunset's glow. You should also consider packing an ND graduated filter as it'll help balance the brighter sky with the darker land.

Foreground Detail

Adding foreground to a landscape image will give your images more depth and detail such as rocks on a beach can help draw the eye through the frame. It'll also help balance the composition which can end up looking like a big empty sky with nothing else in frame if you don't consider your foreground before hitting the shutter button.

Capturing Silhouettes

Even mundane objects can produce interesting images when silhouetted against a colourful sky but do remember that objects must have a good outline and be a strong, recognisable shape. Trees, people, buildings are just a few suggestions which work well when silhouetted. To create your silhouettes, take a meter reading from the sky (don't include the sun), lock the exposure and then re-compose and take your shot without adjusting the exposure. This should keep your sky correctly exposed while your foreground interest is turned into a silhouette. 

Look For Reflections

Water is a great way to add interest to sunset shots as the colourful sky will be reflected on the surface. If you've set up by a lake or even the sea try to adjust your framing so the horizon sits towards the middle of the shot. We know this is usually best avoided but when you're working with reflections you can create a symmetrical image. 

The Horizon 

If you happen to be taking images when the sky is particularly spectacular make this more of a feature by shifting the position of the horizon down. Do the opposite when they sky is good but the foreground is what makes the shot.



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