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  • Cindy Ellis

Sunset and Silhouette Photography

The best tip for sunset photography is to pick your spot ahead of time.

For instance, as you take your walk today, find a perfect location for sunset photography. Remember to find out when the sun sets and plan to be there at least 30 minutes earlier to claim your spot and have time to set up your tripod and camera. Don't forget your remote or cable release. Also remember to protect your camera from the elements. Water and sand are your camera's worst enemy. If your camera seems to have a problem autofocusing, then switch to manual focus at infinity. Many compact cameras have this option as well.


A clear day is not the best day for sunset pictures. For instance clouds and fog can make your photo more intense and interesting

Creating a Silhouette:

Creating a silhouette is often a useful tool when photographing people, objects or landscape against the light. The light can be natural, such as a sunset or an open arch. Make sure the flash is off.

Calculating Exposure when the sun in your prime light source:

Use a spot meter and meter off the sky away from the sun's main hot spot. This technique will give you a silhouette look to your sunset.

If your photo still seems too light, try exposure compensation of minus one.

If your photo too dark, try exposure compensation of plus one

If you have a compact camera, use the sunset or silhouette mode. If your camera does not have these modes then shoot on auto or landscape with the flash disabled.

Use a tripod:

Using a tripod allows you to align the horizon easily. Using your tripod in combination with remote or self timer can eliminate camera shake when your shutter speed falls below 1/125 second.

Avoid flare:

According to Wikipedia, "flare is particularly caused by a very bright light sources either in the image - which produces visible artifacts - or shining into the lens but not in the image - which produces a haze. Most commonly, this occurs when shooting into the sun (when the sun is in frame or the lens is pointed in the direction of the sun), and is reduced by using a lens hood or lens shade." In short use a lens hood or avoid shooting directly into the sun. Certain filters like polarizers can reduce unwanted reflections as well as add drama and contrast to your photo. Some photographers like a little creative "flare" and photoshop has an application to apply flare in the post processing of your image.


Remember your rule of thirds. The photograph below " demonstrates the application of the rule of thirds. The horizon sits at the horizontal line dividing the lower third of the photo from the upper two-thirds. The tree sits at the intersection of two lines, sometimes called a power point or a crash point. Points of interest in the photo don't have to actually touch one of these lines to take advantage of the rule of thirds. For example, the brightest part of the sky near the horizon where the sun recently set does not fall directly on one of the lines, but does fall near the intersection of two of the lines, close enough to take advantage of the rule."---Wikipedia. Some cameras and camera phone allow you to apply grid lines to the display which make using the rule of thirds and lining us the horizon easier.

Need more tips join us on Saturday, May 2nd at 10am on for a video chat on shooting sunsets and silhouettes. Email Cindy at for zoom meeting number and password.

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