The soft light that happens as the sun goes down, and even after it has set, is one of the best times to take outdoor pictures.
There are a few basic photography concepts to consider like location, composition and natural light.
Take a look at the sunset photo ideas and tips to inspire you to get out and take photos during the golden hour light!
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CAMERA GEAR FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY
DOWNLOAD: Camera Gear Checklist
- Camera: check out the compact travel cameras we recommend!
- Tripod: take a look at these compact and lightweight travel tripods!
- Camera Bag: protect your camera from sand and water → We use Lowepro camera backpacks for outdoor photography.
- Neutral density filter: to compensate for variance of light you’ll need to use a neutral density filter. → Check out the Kase magnetic filters we use!
- Camera cleaning kit: remove dust or water that WILL get on your lens. NOTE: this is not for cleaning the sensor.
- Memory cards: purchase name brand memory cards since you’re trusting your images to the card! → We use Lexar and Sandisk!
- External hard drive: copy photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’.
- Headlamp: use when taking sunrise and sunset photos!
Sunset Photo Examples
Take a look at the sunset photo ideas shared by members of our Facebook Group, Your Photography Journey to illustrate the amazing light you’ll find in the evening.
WATCH the video as we discuss various sunset techniques used in each image.
Sunset Photo Ideas
Beautiful sunset images are the result of the warm, soft light at the end of each day.
The best light occurs before and after the sun set when you can capture the Blue Hour and Golden Hour light that’s simply spectacular!
Find Interesting Elements
Capturing the sunset is the objective, but it’s also important to compose your photo with interesting subjects or elements. It’s just adds that extra something to the image!
In this photo by Richey Oliver, he found a location where he could track the sun as it sets on the horizon.
He placed the horizon line high on the rule of thirds grid so the interesting foreground could be included in the frame. Yes, it’s a sunset photo, but the addition of other elements in the scene create interest!
Delaney Van used the colorful sunset sky as the background behind a subject.
She placed the structure along the lower rule of thirds grid line so the sky could fill the majority of the space. Combining a subject with a sunset sky creates a stunning photo!
This photo taken by Brian Leonard captures stunning sunset color!
Adding the pier to the scene as a leading line helps move the viewer’s eye through the photo.
The foreground, midground and background elements create depth to this scene as well.
Track the Setting Sun
Do your research to find a location where you can see the sun when it sets on the horizon.
Sunset pictures with the sun along the horizon grab people’s attention. And it’s always good when you have other elements in the scene like the Grand Canyon!
His placement of the sunset in the middle of the photo allows room for a foreground element for interest, with plenty of space to also include the golden sky.
We wanted to include this photo by William Holmes to illustrate that sometimes your best intentions to get the sun crossing the horizon may not happen due to weather.
But clouds and weather can create a natural diffused light on the landscape as seen in his photo. And… you never know when the sun may ‘pop’ through a break in the clouds so always be ready to capture whatever presents itself!
Capture Sunbeams or a Sunburst
The addition of sunbeams or a sunburst in your photo adds a fantastic element!
James Carro used the clouds to get this shot of sun beams to add to a scene that already had the wow effect !
The color in this landscape captures your attention right away. The leading lines in the photo help guide the viewer’s eye from the foreground to the background.
This photo by Dave Miller illustrates a sunburst captured at just the right time!
Getting an image like this takes research and scouting… but the time and effort sure pays off! Notice the sunlight on the sand in the foreground acts as a leading line toward the sun.
Tony Kendrick has done a terrific job of capturing a sunburst using an element in the scene.
The balance is really nice in this photo with equal space given to the foreground, midground and background.
Reflected Light at Sunset
Don’t forget that as the sun sets, it will reflect soft golden light onto objects in the scene. Lisa Mason’s photo below illustrates the concept of reflected light beautifully.
Placing the horizon line in the middle of the photo means the foreground and reflection have equal weight with the sky. The reflected light elements in the the sky are also seen in the water!
Arches National Park photography, it’s all about the light reflected on the red rocks!
The photo above by David Joyner captures the golden glow at sunset at Balanced Rock. Since the sky is an uninteresting blue, he chose to include more foreground and less sky in this image.
Capture a Silhouette
Sunset is a great time to photograph a silhouette against a blue hour or golden hour sky like Fiona Mccuish did here in the image below.
She framed the scene nicely with the dark foreground and silhouetted elements so the colorful sky and reflected golden hour light on the water would pop!
In Sharon Plyler’s photo, the vibrant golden hour light is the backdrop for the silhouetted tree.
Again, the dark foreground is used, but this time to ‘ground’ the viewer and the tree.
We find the BEST time to photograph sunset is after the sun goes down below the horizon. The transition from golden hour to blue hour light is amazing!
In the image above by Terri Chabot, you’ll see the golden colors near the horizon and the pink, purple and blue colors higher in the sky. This is a terrific example of the light transitioning from golden hour to blue hour.
Jeff Hall captured fantastic light beams after the sun set! When there are clouds in the sky, you just never know what effects you’ll see at sunset.
It’s a good thing Jeff stayed AFTER sunset to see what would happen!
Look at that pretty blue hour light! This photo taken by Jim Bigham is a good example of staying after sunset.
Remember, you may think it ‘looks’ too dark to take a photo, but with the right settings, your camera will capture the scene just fine!
Check out these awesome SUNRISE AND SUNSET PRESETS at ETSY!
Were you inspired by these photos?
Every week in our Facebook group (Your Photography Journey), we have a challenge that focuses on an element of composition. Understanding these simple elements will help you improve your photography skills!
→ DOWNLOAD our 52 Week Photography Challenge List!
We also do live video Photo Reviews each week to discuss compositional elements on the photos group members want us to review, similar to the video we included in this article.