Creative Sunset Photography

CreativeSunset2993, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to take a common subject and shoot it “differently.” What does “differently” even mean? It’s hard to say.

Take sunsets, for example. Everybody shoot sunsets. Everybody and their brother has some great photo of some great sunset that they’ve taken over the years. Somewhere. “Oh, I took this when I was in…” followed by some exotic location that they maybe went to once or twice on their honeymoon. But, yeah, there it is. Sunsets are always around us.

It’s for good reason too. Sunset and the twilight times of day do make for interesting photographs. The light does look better and, let’s face it, the colors in the sky can be downright….pretty.

Oh, now I know what you’re thinking. “She used the ‘P’ word! She’s gone off the deep end!” Yes, I know, but it’s true. They are…well…excuse me for saying it but…pretty. It’s not a crime to take pictures that are pretty, is it? Really?

Things pretty aside, sunsets can make for interesting images but there’s a problem with them. Because so many people do them, because everybody has one in their photographic “bag of mojo” they all start to, well, quite frankly, look a lot alike.

Seen one stunningly gorgeous sunset, seen ’em all, right? Ho Hum. Sunsets can be quite boring, can’t they?

This can be a real challenge. How do you take a sunset photo and make it not look like the ten million other sunset photos roaming the known universe at any given time? Just how can you break all the rules enough to get something special, something magical, without getting something ordinary? This can be a hard line to walk. Seriously.

Taking creative sunset photos can be difficult. You’ve really got to think outside of the box. It’s a bit tricky that, or at least it can be.

I tried with this one. I tried slowly panning. The shot was hand held with a longer exposure, taken while I was panning the camera along the x- and y-axis of the original focal plane. That might sound complicated but it’s not really-I just moved the camera around a bit as the image was exposing. The EXIF data, if these things help you, is as follows:

Model: Canon EOS Rebel T2i
Shutter speed: 6.0 seconds
Exposure program: aperture priority
F-Stop: F/5.0
ISO Speed rating: 100
Focal length: 28.0 mm
Lens: EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
Flash: Did not fire
Metering mode: Evaluative

Basically, I setup the shot to expose in aperture priority, as if I were going to take the shot on a tripod, but I opened up a bit and shot it at f/5.0. I figured I didn’t need all the crispy sharp goodness offered up by an f/16 exposure if I’m going to be panning anyway, right? So why do it? I opted for a decent exposure time-I figured that 6 seconds was just about enough panning time to give me some detail but not enough to give me anything too crisp. With these kind of shots, it helps sometimes to shoot a few frames by dividing the exposure time in half or thereabouts-shooting half the time holding still and the other half panning for the effect you’re trying to get. In this case, I held it for a few seconds and then panned for the remainder of the time.

I can’t say that I got something totally unique. I mean, there are a lot of sunset shots out there and it’s entirely possible that lots of people got the same kind of shots, but I do kind of like mine. It has a motion to it and a fluid feel that I rather like. I’d have to say while it maybe isn’t the single most creative sunset shot out there, it probably doesn’t look all that much like most of the ones roaming the photographic universe either. It’s maybe a little bit different, isn’t it?

All in all, I feel it’s not a bad shot. At least, I like it better than an ordinary tripod crispy sharp shot taken about the same time and it’s got a little bit of the ‘P’ mixed in for good measure.

Until next time…


  1. Ann Tracy, Maine's Digital Alchemist & Artist
    March 17, 2011 / 12:54 am

    Pretty good post as well as shot
    ;~ D

  2. mythopolis
    March 17, 2011 / 12:30 pm

    I like it, the water itself looks atmospheric…….

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