Sunset Photography Camera Settings

One of my goals in 2017 is to learn to take better pictures and branch out into night and sunrise/sunset photography. To help with some of these goals, I’ve been combing the internet for resources to better my skills with night and sunrise/sunset photography. Last weekend I came across an helpful article on Sunset Photography Camera Settings. Click the images to learn what settings were used.

Old Windmill at Sunset in Leonard, Texas - Sunset Photography Camera Settigings - Shot with a Sony a6000 and Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 at 55 mm 1/5 sec at f/16 ISO 100

Sunset Photography Camera Settings – Research Findings

I found several sites offering tips and settings for sunset photography camera settings. Many of those sites had the same settings. But TechRadar’s article Best camera settings for sunsets (free photography cheat sheet) had a good explanation and cheat sheet to go with it.  Plus the article also has links to other tutorials for shooting sunsets. Well worth the read.

Sunset Photography Camera Settings – My Findings

As soon as I read the review I used night off from work to shoot my new favorite landscape spot west of Leonard, Texas of an old abandoned windmill on a small cattle ranch.

I took several shoots using the recommend settings…

  • Exposure mode – Manual
  • Focus mode – Manual
  • Shutter speed – 1/30sec or longer
  • Aperture – f/16
  • ISO – 100 or lower
  • Lens –18-24mm
  • Drive mode – Single-shot
  • White balance – Daylight

Old Windmill at Sunset in Leonard, Texas - Sunset Photography Camera Settings - Shot with a Sony a6000 and Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 210 mm 1/5 sec at f16 ISO 100

I used my borrowed Sony a6000 and the telephoto kit lens, Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3,(wanted a close up of the windmill without trespassing) and setup a shot. The telephoto lens is a little slow and wasn’t the greatest for these low light photos. But with some help of Adobe Lightroom and Google NIK collection I was able to remove a lot of the noise in post.

Manual exposure mode is a must otherwise the camera will set your ISO levels to high. The below picture shows a previous outing. I used the automatic settings and shot handheld (I didn’t have my tri-pod). Even using with heavy editing, I couldn’t get rid of the noise.

Old Windmill at Sunset in Leonard, Texas - Sunset Photography Camera Settings - Shot in Automatic - Shot with a Sony a6000 and Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 at 78mm 1/25 sec at f/5.0 ISO 1250

Focus Mode can be done in automatic but I found as it gets darker its harder for the lens and camera to focus correctly.

Shutter speed should  start at 1/30 seconds and set for longer exposures if it doesn’t look good. Some of my shoots were less and as it got dark it was longer. Most of my were shot at 1/5 seconds.

Aperture I shot at f16 for the most part. Other settings didn’t work as well. But be prepared to play with the aperture settings.

ISO was shot at 100. Go lower if you can. You will need a sturdy tri-pod. If you need a light weight travel one Manfrotto makes a great one. Many of my photographer friends use them. They like them because they are light weight and they tend use them for urban and landscape photography.

Lens focal length I prefer the 18-24mm lengths and I have a 20 mm from Sony that works great for most landscapes pictures but for this one I needed to shoot from a distance and be closer at the same time. I’m looking to get the Rokinon RK21M-E 21mm F1.4 ED AS UMC High Speed Wide Angle Lens for my night and sunset photography work. The research I found says this is an all around good prime lens but great with low light work when paired to the Sony A6000.

For drive mode and white balance the recommended settings worked best.

Tip – TechRadar recommends that if you aren’t using a neutral density gradient filter, you need to shoot twice. You want to expose one shot for the sky and another for the land. Then merge the two in Photoshop. I don’t have a ND Filter yet but plan on getting one once I figure out what my options are and how to use them properly. As to the tip, I tried this but for my pictures I really didn’t need to. If I wanted to expose the land then I would have. I just wanted the silhouette.

About James

James spends most of his free time using social media and loves to teach others about design, web development, CSS, SEO, and social media. He is addicted to Wordpress, social media, and technology. You can reach him on his personal website, Evolutionary Designs Blog, Do not forget to follow him on Twitter @element321

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