Yesterday, while running a photography workshop for Nikon Middle East here in Dubai, we started talking about capturing sunsets and silhouettes and one participant asked me what are the best settings for capturing sunsets. Like with anything in photography, there is no clear-cut answer as it all depends on the type of image you are striving for and the mood you are looking to portray. It’s also not necessarily about settings, but there are some guidelines though.
Sunsets are always something that everybody wants to photograph, but after you take quite a few pictures of just the sun, you realize that if you’re just photographing the actual sunset with nothing else in the frame, you’re not saying anything about the place. Your image could be anywhere. One of the easiest ways of improving your sunset images is to introduce silhouettes. Think of something specific to the place where you are and try and get as close as possible so the subject doesn’t look lost in the frame. If you put the subject between yourself and the sun, most likely the camera will already give you some fairly decent settings for a good silhouette. Most times, underexposing by a stop or two also works. It’s just like when you’re cooking – add salt to your taste (or underexpose to your taste).
Oh, and if you’re wondering about this image, it was taken in Madagascar on the famous Baobab Avenue and I was underexposing by about 2 stops.