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Sunset and Sunrise Photography

Sunrises and sunsets make for impressive photos, and they are surprisingly simple to take – Even with a mobile camera.

Illustration image
Taking pictures of the sun is easy.
The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, Poland at sunset.

Capturing a beautiful sky has never been easier with your smartphone in your pocket. It is the light and location, not the equipment, that makes a good sunrise or sunset picture.

Taking pictures of the Moon

Phone & Compact Camera

  • Tap the screen to set your focus on your surroundings.
  • Never have your flash on auto. Turn it on if you want to light up the details of your subject.
  • Not happy with the result? Try again.

DSLR Cameras

    A good digital camera, like a DSLR, can give more control over the image components.

  • Put your camera on a tripod or anywhere stable like a fence or the ground. Use the preview screen to view your composition.
  • Autofocus is not very good in the dark. Set your focus to manual, focus by hand, and keep the camera still.
  • Switch to manual exposure. Expose for the sun and the sky, and then move your focus to your subject. Underexposure gives richer colours.
  • When using flash to light up your subject, set your exposure for the sun and sky.
  • Keep shooting! Play around with different focus, exposures, subjects. The light changes continually.


  • Make sure you have plenty of time at the location and take test shots to decide the compostion of your photo.
  • Let the most interesting part of your compostition dominate two thirds of the picture, this is called the rule of thirds.
  • Keep your camera straight. Crooked horizons wreck a good shot.
  • Use a flash if you want to take portraits with the sun in the background. This is best done during twilight to catch the details in the surroundings, and balancnig out the flash.
  • Turn around! Sometimes the best picture is behind you, lit by the golden colour of the sunrise or sunset.

Benefits of Planning Ahead

  • Know when the sun rises and sets where you want to shoot the picture.
  • Meet up at least a half an hour before.
  • Check the weather! Clouds give for more interesting skies catching the light. Early morning mist and fog can add interest to landscapes.
  • Lakes, the ocean, windows and buildings reflect light and add extra oomph to your picture.
  • A foreground like trees, people and buildings silhouetted against the colorful sky gives your photo depth and is a common trick used by professional photographers.

Topics: Astronomy, Sun

In this Article


Sun & Moon Photo tips

  1. Taking pictures of the Sun
  2. Taking pictures of the Moon

Sunrise & Sunset times

Moon Phases in your city

Moonrise & Moonset times

Weather lookup

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