Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reviewing Tips for Photographing Beautiful Sunsets

Sunset at August Busch Conservation Area photo by mbgphoto
Sunset at August Busch Conservation Area

Most photographers agree that the minutes before and after sunset provide some of the best lighting for taking photographs. Although I have read and heard that theory many times, I often, either for convenience or desire, try to photograph at different times. When I compare my photos that I have taken over the years, I find that the best ones almost always were taken during the pre and post sunset time periods.
On this page, I will share with you some of the photos that I have taken and some of the techniques I use to capture these images.
all photos are by the authorT-mbgphoto


Preparing for Your Photo Shoot

On a recent spring evening my friend, Teresa and I set out to capture some sunset photographs.  We wanted to catch the reflection of the sinking sun and the colors of the post sunset sky on water, so we went to a nearby area where there are several different lakes.  August A Busch Conservation Area is just a few miles away from us so we decided drive out and check out the lakes in the area. We made sure we arrived about an hour before sunset so we could check out which lake would be best to capture the types of photos we wanted to take.  After driving around several lakes we decided lake #6 would best fit our needs.  We could park on the east side of the lake and get some nice shots of the sun fading into the western sky and horizon.  The other feature we liked about this lakes were a couple of small boats tied up on the eastern shore that would make a nice foreground feature for our photos.

Tips for Preparation

  • Make sure you have batteries charged and room on your memory card
  • Search out the best place to get the photo you want
  • Set up your tripod and camera ahead of time ( a tripod will result in the clearest photos, especially after sunset)
  • Using an off camera remote is helpful (helps to alleviate camera shake)

Take a few shots before sunset

Taking a few shots early will help you to determine the best places to set up your camera.  The light just before sunset can be really nice for capturing flowers and other objects.  The soft light will bring out the details of an object. The first photo shows our set up photo.  The next two show the effects of the soft lighting during the time just before sunset.  Notice the beautiful details in the rose photo.
sunset photo by mbgphoto

flowers at sunset photo by mbgphoto

rose photo by mbgphoto

Camera, Lights, Action

We had our cameras set on tripods, the light came from the setting sun and now we were ready for action.  We took several shots as the sun was setting.  I always like to capture the various stages of a sunset.  For these shots I had moved my tripod away from the boats and to an area where I could capture the sunrise framed by the tree and grasses in the foreground.
sunset photo by mbgphoto

sunset over a lake photo by mbgphoto

sunset behind the trees photo by mbgphoto

The Sun has Set but we are not done Yet

The time right after sunset can produce some wonderful colors in the sky.  It is different each time so you just have to be patient, wait and be surprised.  On this day some beautiful pink colors came out of the clouds after sunset.  The first photo was taken a short time after sunset.  A lot of times new photographers are then ready to pack up and leave thinking they have gotten all the good photos.  But look at the second two photos and note how about 30 minutes after sunset the sky takes on a deep blue color.
sunset photo by mbgphotosunset photo by mbgphoto

sunset photo by mbgphoto

 Patience Required

These next two photos show the difference in waiting those extra minutes just after sunset to get the perfect photo.  I was shooting at Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis for a photography workshop. The instructor had told us to set up and wait for the sky to turn a deep blue.  I waited, and waited and took the first photo.  It was ok but I didn't think anything that great.  Then I waited a bit more and the sky turned an even deeper blue and as a bonus a sliver of the moon was in my photo.  I think you will agree the deep blue really made the photo.  Patience paid off.
Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto

Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis after sunset photo by mbgphoto

Products from my Photos

Here are some Zazzle Gifts I have made from photographs that I took in the "golden hour" after sunset.

Fountain at Sunset Poster
Fountain at Sunset Poster by mbgphoto
See other Sunset reflections Posters at zazzle
He is Risen! Easter Message Card
He is Risen! Easter Message Card by mbgphoto
Shop for Easter message Cards online at

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Sunsets really are beautiful and something we so often miss in our busy days. At other times, we take them for grated and don't really notice the beauty in the sky. Looking at your photos makes me think I should set my clock and plan to be outside just to see the sunset each day. It really is amazing how the difference of a few minutes can make in photos too. That second shot of the Botanical Garden really is gorgeous.

  2. Love your sunset photos, Mary Beth, and appreciate the photography tips. Looking at your various photos, I can see that the 'sunset' is never the same twice, even taken in the same spot. Beautiful.

  3. Oh my goodness, the "patience" before and after pictures teach such a great lesson! I couldn't pick a favorite sunset picture if I tried. God's handiwork is just so beautiful and you treat it so very well. Thanks for the tips!


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