Don’t let the sun go down unclicked

Stuff talks to the pros so you can click the sunsets like one…

So you’ve been admiring the beautiful colours the sky has been wrapping itself in.

Whether owing to the lack of pollution, or for the ample amount of time bestowed upon you in this lockdown, you’ve become something of a self-acclaimed nature photographer, right? The warm sunset on these gloom-filled days has been a saviour for many. You’ve been keeping track of the times the light is at its best, planning your masked walks and documenting the lockdown in your own way.

We’ve got the pros sharing their inputs on how best to capture the setting sun. Of course, you know the basics  ̶  head to your terrace/balcony a little in advance to catch the beauty that sunset is these days, use a tripod for a steady pic and wait for the golden light to change colours  ̶  but that’s all we know of photographing the Mighty Mr. Sun. Pro photographers like Raj Mohapatra and Aman Chotani, however, gave us a few good tips to help give your lockdown photography skills a little boost.

Image shot by Megha Monga Anand

Photographer: Raj Mohapatra

Once the basics are in place (hit your terrace at the time of sunset and decide where the best view is from in advance, tripod set, camera lens cleaned), follow these quick tips to get a masterpiece of a picture.

  • Start by enjoying the activity around it. Observe how the sky changes colours and if there are clouds, too, the drama just multiplies.
  • Take a mental picture first. Decide what you want to capture. Do you want to capture the sky and clouds changing colours or the light play on the horizon and on ground? Frame your shot accordingly. It's important to decide what you want to pay more attention to and that should occupy the maximum of your frame.
  • Once you decide what you want to capture, point your camera and set your frame. If you are shooting with your phone, then make sure you hold the phone steady and keep playing with the exposure level on the screen and keep tapping on the screen for sharp focus. Tripod helps in achieving sharper, more steady shots!
  • If shooting with a digital camera, then keep the aperture around f/8 - f/16 and expose for highlights where you don't crush your shadows.
  • When you set the exposure, make sure to preserve your highlights, as you won’t be able to recover them otherwise. Take multiple shots with minor exposure tweaks.
  • Review what you have shot. Study it and redo it if you are not convinced.
  • Once you are happy with what you have captured, take it to an editing app or software like Lightroom, Photoshop on computer or Snapseed, Lightroom, Photoshop on a phone. It's not compulsory to do it, but it helps in things like recovering shadows, balancing blacks and little saturation. 

Additional words and images by Raj Mohapatra (@RajMohapatra)

Photographer: Aman Chotani

You're part of this amazing phenomenon as well, so take a breath and enjoy what’s happening in-front of you.

Composition is key, and Aman Chotani is quite an expert at that, and currently he is conducting online workshops to help raise money for migrant workers. Sign up to polish your photography skills while doing a good deed.

Here’s how he suggests you get that perfect shot so as to avoid the use of filters later. 

  • Sunset is best shot in Raw format on a full frame camera body. Aman’s secret ingredient is using his reliable 21mm f2.8 Zeiss lens that helps avoid distortion.
  • He suggests a lens of f/16 aperture particularly so that you get higher depth of field. If you’re new to the digicam game, use aperture on priority mode also and set it higher at f/16. The camera will adjust shutter speed automatically.
  • Set the ISO at 100 to avoid a grainy image. Set the focus on ‘Auto’, and if doing so manually, set the focus point 1/3 into the frame.
  • Clean your lens well, wait until the blue light appears in the sky, and shoot away.
  • Play with colours and hues later in Photoshop if needed. 

Additional words by photographer Aman Chotani (www.amanchotani.com)