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6 Sunset Photo Tips

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Sunsets – enjoying the stunning views of the sun slowly slipping away as you sail in the middle of the ocean. This is one of the very best parts of a cruise vacation.

But capturing that moment on film (or SD card) can be tricky. Photography’s one of those things that can seem overwhelmingly complicated. It doesn’t have to be that way.

6 Tips for Photographing Cruise Sunsets:

A Pacific Northwest sunset.

A Pacific Northwest sunset.

1. Find a Foreground

Make your picture interesting. Find something in front of the sunset – a cruise ship railing, a palm tree, an empty beach chair. Use your imagination and find that extra something. Not only does it make your picture more interesting, it’ll give it more depth.

Eastern Coves of Alaska sunset.

Eastern Coves of Alaska sunset.

2. Follow the Rule of Thirds

This was my college professor’s favorite photography rule. And while it sounds complicated, it’s not. The simple point of this tip – don’t put the horizon (the line where the sun sets) in the middle of the picture. Think of the picture as three sections – top, middle, bottom or left, right, center. Again, just by shifting your camera up and down or left and right, you can make your picture more interesting and dramatic. If the sunset’s spectacular, put the horizon line in the bottom third of your picture. If it’s not the best sunset, try putting it in the top third of your picture.

It took 20 shots to get the blinking sign illuminated.

It took 20 shots to get the blinking sign illuminated.

3. Don’t Stop

With the cost of film a very moot concern, snap away with your digital camera. Take more pictures than you think you need. It’s a lot easier to go through a hundred pictures later than to live with the regret that you missed the star photograph of the trip. Looking at my tiny LED screen, it looks like I’ve gotten an amazing shot only to find out later that it was just OK. Avoid average and keep shooting. Remember, don’t stop ‘til you get enough.

Foggy Eastern Caribbean sunset.

Foggy Eastern Caribbean sunset.

4. Take Off Your Sunglasses

Since most cameras these days are digital, you’re relying on the LED display to judge your picture and lighting settings. But with those dark shades on, you’ll misjudge the lighting and settings and wind up with sub-par pictures that lack the light you were trying to capture. If the light’s really bothering you, use a hat to block out the rays while you’re trying to take that pic.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica sunset.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica sunset.

5. Don’t Just Shoot the Sunset

While the sunset is stunning, look around the area you’re photographing, too. There’s a reason most beach portraits are done at sunset. The light is warm, soft, and golden. It reflects all around and makes interesting pictures everywhere you look. Don’t just focus on the horizon line and setting sun, look around and see what other magic you can find.

A Seattle sunset in front of the Wheel.

A Seattle sunset in front of the Wheel.

6. Use the Flash

Use this tip if you’re photographing someone in front of the sunset. Without the flash, your subject will be dark and shadowed. Also, try not to put that horizon line up near their head or neck. Try to set up the picture so the horizon line is in the lower part of the picture and your person fills most of the top.

What tips have you found work best for you? Where’s the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen?

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