Yann Boutheon, Director of Food and Beverage, snapped some great photos last month of a setting sun over The Snead. As you can see from the photographs, the reds and yellows in this sunset are amazing. Sunsets are probably the most often photographed subject in hobby photography. For starters, they create vivid and active colors and change from minute to minute. What is now a red sunset will be a deep purple sunset in three minutes.

We thought we might share three tips for catching that perfect sunset on your camera this upcoming season…sans Photoshop.

1 – Leave the flash at home and bring a tripod
You want to capture the contrast of the sun’s light against the foreground, or land. Using a flash will only confuse the camera’s light meter. Instead, use a tripod and set your camera on a 2-sec timer, as even the slightest movement of pressing the release button can cause your picture to be blurry when you are leaving your exposure open for anything more than 1/30 of a second. See #2

2 – Use your light meter and bracket your exposure
Nine out of ten digital SLRs now come with an internal light meter. Learn how to use it, as it can be your best friend and take your pictures for “meh” to “wow.” Try “spot” metering different parts of the sunset until the light meter is even. Then shoot the same picture up and down one f-stop. This is known as bracketing. Take your light reading from the sunset itself and not zoomed out, which may include darker foreground images like grass or the mountainside. This can cause your picture to compensate and overexpose, causing the magnificent colors of the sunset to wash out. Also, try different exposure and f-stop combinations. The great thing about digital photography is that if we make a mistake, we can immediately see the result and decide whether or not to delete it or hang it on a wall.

3 – Compose in thirds
Remember the rule of thirds in your photographing of sunrises and sunsets. Our good friend Wikipedia writes that “rule states that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines (a grid), and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.” While you can always break the rule it’s often a good idea to place elements like the horizon, sun, silhouettes, etc., off center.

Some other tips:
• Use silhouettes as focal points
• Change your White Balance setting to “shade” or “cool”
• Use your manual focus
• Shoot different focal lengths
• Keep shooting – you only get better with practice