Two Secrets to Great Sunset Images
- Don’t actually take pictures of the sunset!
Yup, that’s it.
You’ve been there, you are on vacation at some tropical paradise and everyone gathers to watch the sunset, maybe even see the “Green Flash” but as soon as the sun goes below the horizon everyone leaves because supposedly the main event is over. (I know you have done this!)
Sure, now you have a picture of the big yellow ball of fire on the horizon, but the magic is just beginning and it is called Twilight, that magical time between day and night.
There are technically three phases of Twilight.
Civil Twilight- This is the brightest phase of twilight and it lasts when the sun just dips below the horizon until it is 6 degrees below. The light tends to have very soft hues of yellows and pinks giving images that “glow.” Be very focused during this phase because the light will be changing rapidly. During Civil Twilight it is possible to take pictures without a tripod.
Nautical Twilight- This phase occurs when the Sun is between 6 and 12 degrees below the horizon. Primary colors are deep blue. This is the time frame when the balance of natural light and city lights becomes a potential object of focus. A tripod is necessary during Nautical Twilight.
Astronomical Twilight- This phase occurs when the Sun is between 12 and 18 degrees below the horizon. Night occurs quickly during this phase. Here cityscapes really can stand out. The sky will still have some light, but it is very dark blue. The brightest stars and planets are also visible during this phase. A tripod is necessary during Astronomical Twilight.
This series of images was taken in Waikiki this past October. Each picture is separated by about 15 minutes! During the time frame when the sun was actually setting there were all kinds of people in my location including another photographer taking wedding pictures. As soon as the sun set everybody left (Which is fine by me!). That is when the show really got interesting if you ask me!! Also of note, I am actually facing opposite the sunset. Choose an interesting subject like a cool looking tree, a building, moving water etc. and then wait for the sky to change colors!
Lastly, I hope my blog entry will inspire you to think differently about sunset pictures. Getting these types of images takes commitment because it will be long after dinnertime and you will have to lug around a heavy bulky tripod. Hopefully you will come away with some unique images and be the envy of your Facebook friends!
I hope you enjoy.