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What’s your secret? Sunset Photography Tips! Part I

What's your secret?  Sunset Photography Tips! Part I Jolene Kaneshige PhotographyYesterday there was an amazing sunset! It was the nicest sunset that I had seen in awhile. The light passing through the clouds made the white sands of waikiki beach, on the island of Oahu, glow and the ocean sparkled in a deep jewel blue. The clouds were lush and full. There was a dynamic range of color from blues to pinks. In fact, it so amazing that I couldn’t stop raving to my newly wed destination wedding couple about how beautiful it was! I was so excited that I had to edit a photo and send it off to my couple as soon as I got home. I also shared it with a few friends on social media.

One them asked “What’s your trade secret?” I replied “Pray for good weather!” because I’ve been out on the beaching shooting constantly, hoping, wishing, and praying for that killer very Hawaii, Hawaiian sunset, and that perfect WOW photo moment! This got me thinking on a more serious note, yes a lot of it is the weather, but if I was learning photography or even just a photo enthusiast it becomes a technical question. Wait, a minute! While I love art, I am great at the technical aspects behind photography, after all this is what I do everyday for a living.

This spun into a very helpful discussion and I wanted to share a few highlights with you because…maybe it will help you take better photos on your phone, DSLR, or mirrorless camera. Whatever you medium, these tips will help!

Achieving amazing sunset photos:

Tip 1. Take a photo of your background. While this might sound counterproductive I assure you that there is a method to my madness. You want to build the photo from the backward forward to make sure you have the right camera settings. Once you have the background the way you want it you are ready to put your subjects in the frame. Coincidentally, you can ignore your subjects while they are in the frame. They will just look very dark, but don’t worry! We are getting to that next!

Tip 2. Now with your subjects in the frame, don’t worry about your camera settings. In fact, you can almost forget about them! Put a flash on your camera or activate your cell phone’s flash. If you are using a manual flash you can start calibrating the flash output. I like to start in the middle because it’s easier for me to see which direction I need to go. A cell phone should auto calibrate it for you, but if you have a camera app such as “Manual Camera” on Android phones, it will give you a few more settings.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky. When you start using flash if your output is too high your subject will be “blown out,” this is referring to the exposure. On a professional level with a “blown out” photo, there is no recovering it even with all the fancy gear that we have. The results are pretty consistent on a phone camera as well. The idea here is you want to get your flash to light up your subjects without causing bright glaring overexposure spots. This can be done by manually dialing down your flash or taking a step back with your phone or changing the flash mode.

To be continued…

If you enjoyed these tips also check out my other tips for Sunrise VS Sunset Photography Part I and Part II.  Also, if you have any questions send me a message.  I would love to hear from you!  Have fun and keep shooting!

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