The Amateur's Guide to Taking Sunset Photos
Watching the sunset over Lake Huron is a nightly ritual for visitors and locals alike during the summer months. During the cooler months, it is not unusual to see bundled up residents heading for the shore and the spectacular streaks of colour across the sky.
Sunsets are a popular subject of photographers and it's no wonder! No two are ever exactly alike and the ever-changing array of colours makes sunsets a magnet for both amateur and professional photographers. Once hooked, the photographer's quest for the perfect sunset photo never ends.
First: Head West, Young Man: Choosing Your Location
Here, in Saugeen Shores and along the Lake Huron Shoreline, this is easy! All beaches face west and all locations offer exemplary sunset photo ops.
First-time visitors may want to do a bit of recognizance first to pick just the right spot from which to shoot. It's a given that repeat and first-time visitors will want to be lakefront when the sun begins its downward journey, so head for the shoreline about an hour early to scope out a location.
Our harbours, range lights and lighthouses make unique foreground subjects as do pipers, fishermen, fishing boats, sail and power boats, people strolling the beach, swing sets, docks, rock formations and anything else that catches your eye. Sunset Viewing Points
Second: Foreground Adds Dimension to Photos
Foreground adds scale to sunset photos; the sky alone shows no sense of proportion. Keep it simple, though; it's not necessary to cram the viewfinder full of images.
The camera stays focused on the star attraction on the horizon, though, not on the objects in the foreground.
If you are not aiming for a silhouette look when people are in the foreground, focus on the person or people. Set up your photo so the people are on one side of the frame, with the sunset over their shoulder. For correct exposure, use a fill-in flash.
Third: Take a Chance with Exposure
To take a sunset photo with a camera with auto focus and an automatically set exposure, aim the camera to the side of the sunset. The sun should not be visible in the viewfinder. Once the exposure has set, set up the picture again, but with the sun in the frame this time. Shoot!
Over or under exposing a bit can actually enhance your sunset photos. Under or over exposing alters the saturation of the colours, plus can open up or close down foreground shadows.
Take a chance and experiment with exposure if you have a camera where the exposure can be changed manually. The resulting photos could be astounding!
Fourth: Point and Shoot and Shoot and Shoot!
Don't be stingy when it comes to sunset photos; one or two quick snaps are probably not enough to catch the sky's shifting colours.
As the sun bears down on the horizon, things move really quickly, so be prepared with camera at the ready. The sunset doesn't end when the sun disappears beneath the horizon, either. Often, the most vivid and brilliant colours fill the sky AFTER the sun makes its exit. Keep your camera poised, with your finger ready on the shutter button.
Fifth: Hang Around After the Sun Goes Down
As mentioned above, often the most vivid light show happens AFTER the sun goes down. Known as the "afterglow", the colours painting the sky and the clouds are a result of the angle of the sun and clouds. The most impressive colours make their appearance anywhere from one to ten minutes after the sun sets.
Sixth: The Other End of the Spectrum
Sunrises, with their unique and softer light, add a new dimension for the photographer. Head east on a county or township road and capture the sun's early rays as the sun rises over a farmer's field. The play of the early morning light on a still and calm Lake Huron is striking, too.