August 2019

#Sunsets: Smartphone Photography Guide

Top Tips for the best sunset photography from Venture Studios…

One of the most beautiful sights in the world is a spectacular sunset. If you’re not convinced, just take a look at Twitter or Instagram and the variety of tweets and images using the hashtag #sunsets.

There is something about the glory of a sunset that makes us want to capture it forever in a photograph. We are likely to grab our smartphones, aim and click – in the hope of getting a good shot. But many of our attempts simply do not do justice to the wonder of a natural sunset, especially when we are talking about mobile phone photography.

girl on grass staring up at sun

So are there things that we can do to give ourselves the best chance of capturing some stunning sunset shots? Here are a few tips that will help to improve your smartphone sunset photography:

  1. Watch the weather
    Whilst you do not want to take your sunset shots in very bad weather, nor do you want the sky to be absolutely clear. Some of the most stunning sunset shots also feature clouds. They can add a unique pattern to your photograph and also make your photo unique from everyone else’s – even if the shots are taken at the same place.

    Clouds also provide a base from which the fading daylight can reflect, which can add a truly magical touch to the colours in your photo.

  2. Be patient
    To get a really good shot you need to be prepared to wait. Sunsets take a while to fully complete, and often the richest colours appear once the sun has actually set.

    So be patient and wait around to see how the sky develops rather than just taking a couple of shots and heading off.

  3. Location, location, location
    This may seem obvious but it’s important to know where the sun is going to set, so that you can choose a really good location to get a good shot. There is an app called Photo Pills that can help you to track the path of the sun and work out where is the best place to take your photos.

    Beaches are always a popular location for sunset photography, as are any other waterside locations or mountains or any area of wide open space. Just make sure that you are going to have a good view of the sunset and that nothing will block that for you.

  4. girl with parasol in front of lighting sunset

  5. Focus on a subject
    Even though sunset photos are all about the sunset itself, it can really help to have a subject in the photograph as well. This can give the photo a focus and also something else from which the sun’s rays can reflect.

    So think about having a person or animal, or perhaps a building, in your shot. Bear in mind that whatever you choose needs to have a clear and definable outline as it will be silhouetted against the setting sun.

    Also remember the photography “rule of thirds” that we covered in our Ten Photography Tips for Beginners article. This will ensure that your shot is balanced and that everything is given the priority it deserves.

  6. Take many more shots than you need
    The beauty of digital photography is that you can take as many photos as you need to try and get that perfect shot. Any that you don’t need can be deleted later. So take as many shots as you like and hopefully at least one of them will turn out the be the one you wanted.

    Also take shots from different heights and different angles so that you find the combination that works best for you. Different angles enable you to get shots with different perspectives, and vary the balance between subject and sunset.

    Be careful about getting the sun itself in your shot, as this can cause lens flare or overexposed white areas. Unless you particularly want thess more abstract effects, try either leaving the sun out of the frame, or positioning it behind your subject so that it is at least partially hidden.

  7. The perfect finishing touch
    Another benefit of digital photography is that you can then edit your photos afterwards. If you do plan to do this, try shooting your photo in raw mode, which will enable more radical editing afterwards.

    If your smartphone does not offer the raw option, there are various apps around that will enable you to do this, including Adobe Lightroom CC, VSCO, and Snapseed – all for both Android and iOS.

    The above apps – and many like them – also enable you to edit your photos. For example enhancing the colours, converting them into black and white, or changing the brightness and contrast.

fluffy dog with sunglasses suunset

We hope that the above tips inspire you to take and edit some stunning sunset photos with your smartphone. You will end up with photos that look great, create #memoriesforever, and perhaps even look better than the actual sunset looked in real life!

Why not also share your stunning pics using the hashtag #sunset – tag us in so we can see your magic!