Getting More out of your Camera: Sunrises & Sunsets

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

I used to think that this was the best sunset picture I've ever taken ~ a perfect round globe in a graduated orange sky, against an inky black sea, with just a touch of texture to it.

But although I still love this shot, taken in Cartagena, Colombia, last New Year, I've started to think that there's limited mileage in it after its initial arresting impression. 

That got me considering ways in which we can make sunrise and sunset photography grab and hold the viewer's attention for longer.

Here are my top tips:

1. Choose an interesting or unusual foreground subject
The symmetrical position of these five birds and the crisp lines of the telegraph wires work nicely against the dappled pink end-of-day sky...

Saul Junction, Gloucestershire

 And this hedgerow adds a pretty touch to the fading Winter Solstice sun...

Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire
The reflected sunrise in a neighbour's window provides an interesting detail...

West Norwood, London
2. Look at what the clouds are doing
A good shot doesn't necessarily depend on a clear sky ~ unusual cloud formations can provide extra interest...

Key West, Florida
Cartagena, Colombia
3. Shoot before it gets too dark
The Golden Hour, when the sky still has some blueness to it, can give an ethereal glow to your picture and light up everything that falls in the sun's path...

Copenhagen, Denmark
4. Get up early!
Obvious I know if you're seeking sunrises... You'll be rewarded for your trouble when you settle into a good spot which lets local wildlife get used to you and return to business as usual as the sun comes up...
Miami Beach, Florida
I took this shot from the local railway bridge on the way to catch my morning train. Before you wonder what time I start work, it was early January, that's why it was so dark!

West Norwood, London
5.Think winter sun, not only summer
It's not just on the beach where you'll bag a great shot...

Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire
Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire

6.Use silhouettes
The blackness of the subject against a bright sky gives a more unsual take...

Copenhagen, Denmark

7. Remember it doesn't have to be red or orange!
The sepia yellow tones in this shot of the River Nile make a refreshing change from more traditional sunset colours...
Luxor, Egypt
Very often we don't have too much time to spend when composing these kind of shots as the sun moves at such a pace both ends of the day. Having a few simple ideas in mind beforehand is a helpful way to get that little bit more out of the experience and make your best shot even better.


  1. Hello! Nice series and article. My fave at the moment is the setting sun taken taken through the window of an office block on the skyline. Blog's lookin' good btw, I have been remiss in not visiting enough and will add myself to the subscription list!

    1. Thank you :) I'm really enjoying shooting and blogging again these days after a bit of a quiet period with it all. The photo you mention was taken from the terrace of a friend's former apartment (dare I say penthouse!) in Greenwich - that was some place he had, I can tell you!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.