Sunset Photography Tips
During the winter months we can get some pretty spectacular sunsets in Fuerteventura. Going down to one of the beaches for the golden hour – the hour before the sun sets when the light is at its best – to watch or photograph the sunset is one of the nicest “free” things you can do on the island.
In the summer the sky either tends to be more hazy or has no clouds. Also, quite often in the summer, there is a band of clouds on the horizon. The sun goes behind the band and just dies without colouring up the sky. For a good sunset you need the sun to go below a clear horizon. Then the sun can shine on the underside of the clouds and make them go some wonderful colours.
My favourite beaches to photograph the sunsets from are Steps and the Surfer’s Beaches in El Cotillo, Esquinzo and Tindaya beaches. At sunset in the winter you can pretty much guarantee having them to yourself. Mind you, when I say winter, I will still just have shorts and a t-shirt on and will be at the water’s edge in bare feet. By contrast, my photography buddy has lived on the island for many years. He would more likely to be wearing jeans, shirt, a coat, hat and wearing Wellington boots!
As I simply don’t do mornings you will not find any photos of sunrises in my files. I have heard of this sunrise concept but have never actually witnessed it!
Some tips to help take better sunset photographs
These are some of the sunset photography tips I have picked over the years. I hope they may be useful to you.
Tip 1: If your camera allows it then shoot in manual mode and slightly under-expose the photo which will help enhance the colours of the sunset (or sunrise). For example, if in auto mode the camera selects an exposure of F11 at 125th second, then switch to manual mode. Then set the aperture to F11 and the shutter speed to 500th of a second.
Tip 2: Wherever possible use a tripod, particularly during the end of the sunset when there is less light so you will be shooting at slower shutter speeds. If tripod isn’t to hand then try to use a rock, wall or some other steady surface to put the camera on and then used the shutter timer.
Tip 3: Look for an interesting foreground, a nice rock, a rock pool etc to have in the foreground of the photo to make that more interesting. A mass of flat sand may be nice to look at in real life but it can make the photo a bit boring. Move around until you find the right spot. Sitting at a bar and taking a photo of the “lovely sunset” from where you are sitting (with tables, chairs and perhaps cars in the way) is lazy. All of the photo should be interesting, not just the sky.
Tip 4: To increase the colours in the sunset try using a different white balance setting. Instead of being in “auto” try switching to “shade”. I did this last night to show the difference but only had my old rubbish phone. The photos are poor but even so I think it shows the difference between white balance settings.
Tip 5: If you are at the coast then try to double up on the colour. Use the refection of the sunset in a rock pool or on wet sand.
Tip 6: Don’t give up on the sunset too early. A number of times I have said to myself, “that’s it, all over”. I have packed away my gear and started heading back to the car. I have then looked back and the sky has suddenly coloured up again. If you are using a tripod you may be surprised just how long you can photograph and still have good colour.
Tip 7: If you are photographing on the beach (with a tripod) then experiment with using long exposures. By this I mean shutter speeds of over a second upwards. You can get some great effects with wispy seas as the waves come in and out a few times while the shutter is open.
I will share other sunset photography tips in another article and video later.