Winter’s crisp air and dramatic cloud formations make it the best time to capture beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
A key factor is controlling how your camera records the light and dark areas during capture. As you push the shutter button, your camera is quickly taking readings to determine how bright the scene is. If you have the sensing part of the camera (usually in the middle of your frame) pointed to the bright sunset then it will look good but everything outside of the sunset will be dark. This can be a good thing if you have interesting subjects in the foreground which can be silhouetted, such as the pier and sailboat in the image below.
If your camera is pointed at the foreground objects, such as your friends, they will show properly but your sunset will be too bright and without color. Follow these steps for a good photo: 1) use a flash and stand close to your friends to light them up, 2) point your camera with the sensing part still on a friend, for proper focus, and including as much sunset as possible in the scene, 3) push the shutter half way down then move it for the composition you want and push the rest of the way. Your friends will be bright and in focus and you’ll still see the sunset. Each camera is a little different so experiment a little before taking “the shot”.
In many sunset pictures the sky is pretty but the ground is just dark. If you’re near water, get close to the water and let the wet sand reflect the sky’s color.
Arrive early, because the sun rises and sets quickly. Note the times these four pictures were taken on the same day! Don’t forget to spin around. Sunsets and Sunrises throw color in the sky and sometimes the best shot is behind you. The “Shore Break at Sunrise” image below was shot with the sunrise behind the camera.