Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing

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The Golden Hour: How to Take Best Sunset Pictures

by Dhaval Patel

If you ask any photographer, by passion or profession, they will tell you that sunset photography is a perfect way to hone and showcase your landscaping skills. Cliché as it may sound, the beauty related to sunset photography is truly magnificent and irreplaceable. Though almost everyone tries to take the perfect sunset pictures, most of them don’t end up with good ones. This is mainly due to conditions like the change in the lighting and the difficulties in angles. You have to master the settings of the camera angles to get the perfect one. This article deals with what you should do to get the best sunset pictures.

Plan for sunset photography

If you decide to start taking pictures of sunsets randomly, chances are you will not end up with anything that matches high standards. You need to plan the whole thing carefully before stepping out so that you are not taken by surprise when you reach the place.


This is very important from the setting point of view as the lighting will be heavily dependent on the surroundings. You should be very specific about the location and see to it that you have an enriching view first. It is probably a good idea to visit the location beforehand so that you get a proper perspective of how things are going to be.


Cloud cover plays a crucial role in sunset photography as it will not only cover the Sun, either partially or completely, but also reduce the lighting and clarity. Be updated about the weather of the day on which you plan to execute the shoot and hope that it stands true.

What do you hope to achieve?

When you plan for sunset photography, you should be clear about your expectations and goals. Do you wish to capture a time-lapse? Do you want a direct picture of the setting Sun? Or do you want to capture the reflection of it? Once these become clear, you can plan it better. You should also not be unrealistic in your approach and hope to get the best shot on the first day. Photographers try 1000s of them before getting one of considerable quality.

Is there a natural feature you’re shooting?

Since sunset is a natural phenomenon, shooting it in a raw and natural form will give a more realistic effect. So, you should consider the surroundings before commencing with your shoot.

The best camera settings for sunset

Now that you have figured out the location and the associated factors and set up your camera, it is time to consider the camera settings in details.

Figure the right camera mode

The biggest confusion that you need to address first is whether you should go for an Aperture Priority Mode or a manual mode for sunset photography. There are no right answers here, and it is not true that only manual photography is real photography. In fact, in this scenario, an Auto mode will be more useful.


There is an inverse relationship between the aperture number and the size of the lens, that is, the bigger the number, lesser is the lens size. Now, a small aperture number denotes a more focussed image and a starburst appearance, both of which are desirable. So, a larger aperture is a good option.


Keep the ISO as low as possible so that the photographic noise is less and the contrast is more, leading to a clearer and sharper picture.

Put the camera on a tripod

As the light falls, the exposure time of the lens will increase, and any shake of hand will dampen the effect. Therefore, use a tripod for the camera so that a stable picture is obtained. You should be ready to try out different angles and heights using the tripod, though. It is one of the most notable inclusions in the Travel Photography tips by most professional photographers.

White balance

A Daylight or high White balance will be perfect for shooting a dying sunset, to capture the contrast properly.


It is a good idea to shoot the images in RAW as you will have to do a lot of processing later. If you want to have a more natural approach, maybe JPEG is a better option.


You should focus wide first and then reduce the size gradually for a clearer picture. Like discussed before, a large aperture will accentuate the process.


This depends on the lighting at the time of sunset photography. If the light is less, the exposure time should be more and vice versa. Make your choice in real-time.

Use the right apps when shooting sunsets with a mobile device

You may not be using a professional camera to shoot a sunset and have to contend with your mobile camera only. This doesn’t mean that you cannot shoot well. There are many apps available in the Play Store and Apple Store and choose the one with the best reviews.

Now that you have a clear idea about sunset photography, it is time to head out and execute the shoot and get amazing pictures.

About the Author

Patel has two passions: Travel & Photography. Lucky for him, they go hand in hand. His goal is to inspire and encourage others to get out into nature — it’s a beautiful and enlightening experience. Be sure to check back often to learn the various ways he photographs nature. He can be contacted via his website.

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