In our individual lifetimes we will witness all kinds of sunsets.
The window-seat sunset on the plane. The first kiss sunset. The sunset glimpsed from the balcony of your first home. The new camera sunset. The “I will get through this” sunset. The sunset seen through tears, happy or sad. The sunset seen alone on the other side of the world. The “marry me” sunset. And, one we like most, the “there’s nowhere else I’d rather be” sunset.
Sunsets with question marks, sunsets with ellipses. Sunsets experienced not merely in different places, but at different times in your life, different moods and thoughts painting it with your distinct hue.
Of course the sunrises of our lives are no less special. No less varied. Perhaps you prefer them to sunsets. Perhaps you’ve never thought about it. What you have surely done, though, is lift your camera to capture it, sunrise or set, to hold onto it for long after the moment. It is for you that this blog was written – as a guide to capturing these moments in all their beauty and colour and mood.
There are many more tips to sunset photography, but here is a list of some of our favourites. We’d love to see your best sunset shots from your adventures on the Zambezi River with us – feel free to share them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #theroyalchunduexperience #thatsunset so that we can find (and like) them.
1. Subject Matter. Find an object of interest to highlight in the foreground – in our case, the river makes for a great subject and adds depth to the scene, as well as our sunset cruise boats, dinner on the deck, sundowner drinks, a mokoro on the water… What else can you think of?
2. Turn around. Don’t forget to turn the camera on the scene behind you, as the sunset casts its beautiful warm light on the landscape.
3. Get there early and stay longer. Give yourself time to prepare and set up and hang around after the sun has disappeared and the so-called second sunset occurs.
4. The sky is constantly changing as the sun sets – change your settings to suit this. Shoot in aperture priority with exposure compensation while the sun is in the sky – a more convenient option as the light levels change quickly before sunset – and change to manual once the sun dips below the horizon – for a more precise exposure in the low light, using the exposure meter on your camera.
5. Create silhouettes in the foreground by speeding up your shutter speed. Opt for a subject that is relatively small or has fine details to create an interesting outline.
6. Shoot in RAW. Rather get a bigger memory card than miss out on the wealth of delicate light information in a sunset that RAW provides.
7. Rather than using auto white balance and losing the warm tones of a sunrise or sunset, shoot in ‘cloudy’ or ‘shade’ – usually used in cooler lights – to add warmth. If a cooler moody shot is what you’re after, play with the other white balance settings.
8. Look out for birds. Whether a single bird or a line of birds flying in the sky, it can add interest to a landscape and a sense of place and spirit. Clouds are our friends too…
9. When photographing a portrait of someone in front of a sunset, consider where you place the horizon line. Neck level is a bad idea, while around the mid-section or chest is a good idea.
10. On the Zambezi River, we’re all about reflections. But besides the river, reflections are everywhere, in the least expected places. Look for objects reflecting the sunset colours – such as windows behind you, sunglasses, etc. What else can you think of? Incorporate them into the larger landscape or make them a photo of their own.