Sunset landscape photography has been one of the most widely used, produced, and viewed styles of photography ever.
Capturing the beauty that surrounds us and freezing the places we love so much when we visit them is undoubtedly one of the situations in which photography has become increasingly common and evident.
In this article, we have collected tips on how to understand and obtain quality images in landscape photography. All this with the necessary tools.
Definition Of Sunset Landscape Photography
Sunset landscape photography implies the representation of specific natural spaces. These spaces are described as inanimate, static, and feasible.
A landscape is one of the least controversial and timeless subjects in the world of photography, since the same landscape can be photographed in different ways depending on the angle, the framing, or the time of year.
In addition, landscape photography has the ability to convey emotions and feelings, so photography professionals have defined different styles of landscape photography based on this.
For example, in landscape photography we can find descriptive, impressionistic and abstract modalities, each with its own characteristics.
For this type of photography, sessions need to be planned well in advance if you want to guarantee amazing results. The most interesting moments of sunrise or sunset are only minutes away; precious and fleeting moments that should not be wasted.
Our advice is to find a place a day or two in advance. Don’t just find a good angle; include interesting foreground elements like trees, silhouettes, etc. It is also convenient to observe when the sun usually rises or sets, because you will be interested in going to that place earlier.
Meteorology is another very important aspect to take into account; it is not the same to photograph a clear sunset as a cloudy one. Each has its own charm, but it helps to know what the weather will be like the next day, so you’re ready to take the photos you’ve been dreaming of.
The plan also includes the preparation of all the necessary equipment: backpack, glasses, fully charged batteries, formatted memory cards, etc.
What Types of Landscape Photography Are There?
Here are some of the most popular types of landscape photography:
- Black and white.
- Long exposure.
Top Tips for Taking Sunset Landscape Photography
To create a sunset landscape photography, it is important to follow the rule of thirds in composition. When taking a photo, you need to take into account the location of the subject and the horizon, as well as all the elements that make up the image. The horizon must be completely straight.
In lensing for sunset landscape photography, a wide angle is generally recommended due to its ideal focal length. This lens allows you to capture the maximum amount of information about the landscape while maintaining a wide enough field of view.
Regarding shutter speed, professional photographers who specialize in this type of photography tend to use longer exposure times. With this technique, you can achieve static thread effects while bringing out different details.
The depth of field should not be too short, as it will blur some parts of the image.
Since it is a landscape photo, this composition rule is (almost) mandatory. When it comes to framing, try not to make the mistake many people make by shooting a completely boring sunrise or sunset.
All the spectacular views that nature has prepared for us need an extraordinary element to break monotony, to add more life and interest to a sunrise or sunset. For example, a tree, a palm tree, rocks, or an interesting silhouette.
When it comes to lenses, we personally like to shoot sunrises and sunsets with a short focal length, between 14 and 25mm, so that we can capture the whole landscape. However, we also recommend having several lenses with more than one focal length on hand; this way you can shoot panoramic landscapes as well as high zoom shots where the sun is most visible.
Equipment to Record Sunset Landscape Photography
To get amazing sunset landscape photography, you need at least:
- A DSLR camera and several lenses, at least two.
- Essential tripod. The relative lack of light means the camera sometimes needs long exposures. To avoid blurred images, it is recommended to stabilize the camera beforehand.
- Remote shutter: It’s even better if you can shoot without touching the camera’s body. Use the remote shutter release, but you can also use the camera’s 2 or 10 second delayed shutter release.
- Filters (especially polarizing filters).
Focusing At Infinity in Landscape Photography Is a Mistake
It is a common belief that to take sunset landscape photography you must focus on infinity, or on the horizon. This belief is wrong. The first thing is to understand the concept of depth of field and apply it.
Depth of field is the distance before and after the focal length that appears in focus, twice as far behind the focal point as in front of the focal point.
If we focus on the horizon or infinity in a landscape, we use only the part of the sharpness that is in front of the focal point, which is also half the part behind it. The last part will be wasted. In doing so, we cannot get as much clarity as possible.
If we focus on the central point, we will take better advantage of the depth of field and we will get more sharpness in the whole scene. In practice, we can use our eyes to find a point one-third of the way between the horizon and the photographer’s position and focus there.
The depth of field at the rear is double that at the front. It is a massive solution that is recommended by well-known landscape photographers. Find a point in the scene that corresponds to one-third of the distance between the photographer and the horizon.
Landscape photos depend on what objects we can fit into the frame, how far they are from the background, and what the photographer wants to achieve. Each photo has its own characteristics. In fact, the best and most convenient way to achieve maximum sharpness in landscapes is to use hyperfocal distance. Using hyperfocal distance requires more time and knowledge. Anyone who wants to do good sunset landscape photography needs to know and learn the hyperfocal distance.
With all these technical aspects out of the way, we can focus on the two most important things in good sunset landscape photography: lighting and framing.
1) Fixating on the best focus technique does not guarantee sharpness of the selected area, as sharpness depends on the f-number. This guarantees sharpness at the lowest f-number.
2) If the selected f-number does not allow us to achieve sharpness in the selected area, fixating on the best focus can be more of a disadvantage than an advantage.
3) The criteria for determining the best focus is to place the film in the same position as the blur circle at the extreme point of the area we want to lighten.
4) The 2/3 rule is very practical and accurate in many situations. In most cases, we can achieve clarity at the right time only by “losing” half a point.
5) If the second object that we want to be in focus is far from the first, we must focus twice the distance from the camera to the first point that we want to be in focus. We’re looking for the closest point on the camera that we want it to focus on.
We could use a common meter, maybe even some augmented reality apps, or get a clear and accurate count of how many steps we’ve taken. If the closest subject is one meter away, we only need to focus on two meters with an aperture of f11.
Cristian Valles is a Miami-based professional photographer. With 14 years of experience in studio and outdoor photography, you can be sure to get the best shots to capture your most cherished moments. Visit Cristian Valles Films to view his work, find information about his services, or schedule an appointment.