Photographer San Francisco / Sacramento California

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San Francisco
USA

Photography has always been a passion of mine.  I have loved taking pictures since I was a kid and had my first camera.  I started with film like almost all middle age to older photographers and have come full circle today as I continue to shoot both digital and medium format film.  Today I spend almost all of my free time away from home traveling the United States and Europe.  

I started as a wedding photographer (and sports photographer) but have transformed over time to dedicate my time to landscape photography.  I still occasionally do weddings for special clients, typically destination weddings, but 98% of my time today is spent traveling and photographing.  My main complaint is not having enough hours in the day to dedicate to editing and social media.  After my most recent Europe trip (36 days straight) I have over 2,000 pictures still hiding in my computer somewhere.  This trip is roughly outlined on my blog but with many more posts to come.  I have also spent several weeks exploring Iceland which is the newest hottest destination for photographers and those checking off their bucket list.  If you want more information on Iceland, contact me and I would be happy to share my experiences. 

Beyond my travels, I run a photography business in California - featuring my photography that is printed, framed, and displayed in galleries. My work has been internationally published and awarded and I pride myself on bringing landscape photography the way I see it to my clients. I am a 100% self taught photographer who travels the world seeking out the best photography locations and share my tips and travel reviews on my blog. 

Photography Tips for Sunset Pictures

Photography Tips / Articles

Photography tips and articles helping photographers learn techniques for better pictures are plentiful on the web.  What makes this blog different is my photography tips are free and available.  I work to maintain one goal: to help photographers of all levels.  Wedding photographers should browse my tips for better portraits and contact me for individualized help as I have photographed multiple weddings including destination weddings, always seeking methods to make sure the bride is always happy. 

Photography Tips for Sunset Pictures

Jared Lawson


Sunset photography can be tricky if you aren't prepared before heading out to your desired landscape location.  This article covers my photography tips for sunset pictures, covering what you need to including the proper equipment, camera settings and tips for behind the lens.  

Lake Tahoe Sunset, California.  Photo Credit: Jared Lawson Photography

Lake Tahoe Sunset, California.  Photo Credit: Jared Lawson Photography

Tip #1: Invest in the Right Equipment

My dad always said, "I am too poor to build cheap".  This quote lies true with photography - aspiring photographers cannot afford to buy cheap equipment and be disappointed when it performs at a lower level, then go out and buy the right equipment.  Instead, save your money and invest in the right equipment the first time.  This includes investing in the following MUST HAVE items: quality camera body, proper landscape lens and a quality tripod.  I have written several times on what camera's I recommend and what tripod I recommend.  I still highly recommend investing in a Gitzo or Really Right Stuff tripod.  These things are practically indestructible.  I have traveled from Iceland, Europe, Canada and all over the United States with my Gitzo and Really Right Stuff equipment and they have never failed me.  

Tip #2: Camera Settings

The first thing you need to set in your camera is to shoot in RAW format.  I have made the mistake to shoot in JPEG in the field only to realize it later.  Next, turn down your ISO to a level between 100 and 400.  I don't want noise in my photos and I want the sharpest photo possible, keep your ISO at a lower setting.  Finally, set your exposure delay mode to at least 2 seconds.  This will minimize your camera shake and help stabilize your camera before your shot.  Another quick tip is to utilize your camera's timer mode to replace a remote trigger, set it for as low as possible - 3 seconds will be plenty of time.  

Tip #3: Bring Your Own Light

This tip is often not covered in photography forums, but with sunsets you may want to pack a little extra light for dark foregrounds.  In the photo featured on this article, I used a very light amount of light on my entire foreground to keep it in focus.  Don't be afraid to use a flashlight with a gel, a speedlight set on a very low setting or your own custom light.  Just be careful to be out of white balance, you may need to practice using color gels. 

Tip #4: Compose and Focus BEFORE the Color

This is a big tip and very important to your success...be sure to scout your location and compose your scene with an expectation of your desired outcome.  Of course you may not always know if a sunrise will produce spectacular color, but you should always be prepared.  If you are looking for a fantastic landscape sunset picture you need to be sure to visualize what you want beforehand.  For this scene I composed my scene before the sunset, set my tripod - and focused on my foreground.  I then set my camera to manual focus and leave it.  When the light fades I won't be struggling to focus in low light while focusing on the color change.  Be prepared and set your camera to be ready for your perfect color.  

Tip #5: Edit with Color Balance in Mind

One of final pieces to a good sunset picture is to edit properly with your white balance in mind.  I like to bring along a grey card to snap a neutral photo beforehand.  This may not always be feasible for you - so while editing be sure to spend some time adjusting your white balance to your desired outcome.  You don't want to overdo the saturation and white balance, but spend some time editing to get the perfect balance of color. 

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