Six steps for photographing a sunset or sunrise with your digital camera

Six steps for photographing a sunset or sunrise with your digital camera:

1. Allow yourself plenty of time to set up your equipment and find a good position. It is helpful to know the precise time when the sun will set or rise in order to know where to stand and when you’ll get the best shots.

2. An exposure time of one or two seconds is optimal for these types of photos. It is recommended that you use a tripod to keep the camera completely steady during these longer exposures.

3. Turn off the flash. The only exception is if you want to expose foreground elements. For those photos, turn the flash exposure back by one stop so you don’t overexpose the foreground.

4. Set the exposure for the sky. Ideally, two thirds of your shot should be sky. To find the right exposure, position your camera so that the sun is outside of the frame. Take a reading, and use it as your reference when manually setting your exposure.

5. Compose your shot. For more interesting photos, avoid centering the horizon in the middle of the picture. Instead, aim higher or lower. Including foreground elements is another way to add interest and artistic expression to your photos.

6. Continue to shoot even after the sun has set/risen. The remaining afterglow can make for some beautiful images.

Sunsets and sunrises evoke different feelings due to the differences in the colours and effects each produces. A photo of a sunrise will feature clear light and thus cooler hues. A sunrise, on the other hand, produces warm hues. Note that the auto white balance controls on some digital cameras will “correct” these warm colours. To avoid this problem, select the sunset/sunrise setting in your camera’s white balance or scene mode. Another option is to shoot in raw mode, which provides the ability to make post-capture adjustments.
As you photograph sunrises and sunsets, always keep safety in mind. You should never look directly at the sun or point your digital camera directly at the sun. Be particularly cautious if you’re using a long telephoto lens.

These lenses act as magnifying glasses, increasing the intensity of the sunlight. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the sun is low enough to turn the sky red. Another option is to photograph the sun when it is behind a layer of cloud.
While a sunrise or sunset is itself a striking subject for a photo, there are some other techniques you can experiment with to create stunning pictures. For example, try photographing a still object that’s located directly between you and the sun. The light will silhouette the object, drawing attention to both the subject as well as the surrounding sky and colours.

A few last tips for taking the best photos:

1. Your camera’s autofocus will be confused by a very bright object in the centre of the frame. The autofocus system will also have difficulty focusing on the sky with no contrast or details. Switch to manual focusing if your camera does not have an AF-ready light to let you know when the camera is focused. Unless you want some of the elements in the foreground to appear sharp, set the camera’s focus to infinity. A small lens aperture, between f/8 and f/22, will ensure that your depth of field is adequate.

2. Avoid artificial lights from objects such as nearby traffic, which can distract from the main subject of the photo. Artificial light can also interfere with the subject’s colours.

3. Shoot on days with little or no wind. A strong wind can shake your camera, ruining shots with long exposures.
This article was brought to you by Canon Australia - helping you make the most out of your digital camera.

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