Sunrise or Sunset Scene, Choosing Equipment & Tools

Editing a Sunrise or Sunset Scene Part One

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Sunset or Sunrise scenes are probably/is the most popular images you will see in photography as this is the best time when you get those beautiful colours in the sky including the rays & colourful tones.  The more popular type are at the beach where you get reflections from the wet sand & sea which intensifies the colours even more.  Some people will be happy to just shoot a scene and leave the image as it has been processed in camera.  For others they like to add a little more to a sunset, such as myself.  I decided to write up this series of guides so someone who is beginning to start out in photography will have some understanding of the various tools that are available to them either through software or hardware.

This is a guide, it is only purely that.  Photographers, whether as a professional or hobbyist will have their own unique ways of presenting an image.  I edit images somewhat slightly different to how i will show in this guide, however i am attempting to make this as easy as possible for the starter.  If you take something away from this guide, then i have at least achieved my aim.

This guide is also designed for someone who has a basic understanding of what the features of their camera do.  Manual mode will mainly be used so please familiarise yourself with this mode.

What do i Need?

A camera does help.  You can use any type of camera nowadays.  Whether it be one used on a mobile phone, bridge camera, compact camera or even a dslr.  Technology of any type of camera have advanced a lot over the years and i am sure there will be more to come in the future.  Personally myself, i use a dslr but i did not start using one.  I first started out using a bridge camera after taking a long break to get myself used to learning towards getting the right exposures.  I would recommend if you start out to get a cheap bridge camera, this way if do not enjoy what you are doing then you will have saved yourself some money and you have a camera for those holiday snaps instead.

For the guide, you will also need Photoshop.

RAW or JPEG?

This is down to personal choice.  I shoot RAW as the file format can hold more information of the image.  So when taking your images home after a nice sunset or sunrise information can be adjusted using a software editor.  Photoshop, Lightroom or Capture One Pro are popular choices.  JPEG holds less information on a file so it will be pretty much shown as it is (i.e. the camera software has edited and adjusted the image for you.

Make your choice over which file format to use.  If you have decided to use RAW then make sure the camera you will be purchasing can also process RAW files.  If you are going to read and follow some of the guides here, then i recommend you purchase a camera that can process RAW files as you will  not get the same results using JPEG, especially when shooting a sunrise or sunset scene when facing in the direction of the sun.

What Else Do i Need?

As a basic need for landscape photography, you should have the following equipment to get you started:

  • Tripod – Any tripod will do, they vary in prices but a good sturdy one will be a good start.  You can upgrade it at a later date.
  • Remote Shutter Button – This is really handy to have in your bag.  Especially when shooting low light scenes like night photography etc.  I recommend buying a rieless type.  It is far better than a wired one, especially when the wind picks up.
  • Cleaning Equipment – Essential especially when at the beach and there is a lot of spray around.  A cloth that does not scratch your lens is essential and some fluid specially made for cleaning lenses.
  • Lenses – If using a dslr, you may want to think about the lens you will be needing.  When shooting landscapes, it is best to use the widest lens available to you.  They come in both forms, either a zoom (i.e. 28-70mm) type or a prime (fixed focus i.e. 21mm).  I prefer a prime lens due to the sharpness of them over a zoom lens but this is dependant on your budget.  It is also handy to carry a telephoto for those close ups too.

More can be added but this is just something to get anyone started.  More information about other items will be added in a later guide.  all of the items can be purchased anywhere online or locally.

Which Direction do i Face?

Good question.  It really depends on your style.  Some people prefer to face ninety degrees away from the sun, others facing behind & the more daring face the direction of the sun.  I normally face ninety degrees from the sun if it is too strong.  Ensuring i have a lens hood fitted to prevent any lens flare.  When the sun falls the strength of the sun will decrease so i will start to face the sun.  If on a very strong evening where the rays of the sun are still around behind me, i will also face this direction for a lovely pinkish tone in the sky.  When the twilight hours have set in i return to face where the sun has set for more colours.

Where do i go for a Sunset or Sunrise?

You can go anywhere you want, the world is your oyster.  Nowadays there are online tools via a web browser or phone app.  They will help you to pinpoint where you can go.  One particular app for phones is The Photographers Ephemeris, an online tool that can be used for various scenes such as sunsets, sunrises, moon sets & moon rises.


That’s it for the first part.  For part two, i will explain how i use images from the same scene to create a nicely exposed image without losing too much detail.

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