Using a DSLR camera is super handy if you want to experiment with settings and be able to switch your lenses out on the go. But we highly recommend smartphone photography for teenagers. You’ll always have a camera on hand!
And one of the most readily accessible and beautiful photography subjects is a sunset. Sunset photography might seem easy, but there’s quite a bit to get right if you want to take a stunning sunset picture—everything from lighting to framing needs consideration.
But with a bit of guidance and maybe a smartphone photography course to learn all the ins and outs, anyone can become great at capturing sunsets! Here’s our advice on taking these stunning photos.
Set Yourself Up for Sunset Success: Smartphone Photography for Teenagers
You can capture beautiful sunsets with almost any camera. But if you really want to take pictures that make people stop and look in awe, it’s worth taking some time to prepare yourself properly beforehand.
The best thing about smartphone photography for teenagers is that you probably already have the camera! Most smartphones these days come with a surprisingly good-quality lens, so you’re already equipped with a decent device to take your sunset photos with.
If you’re serious about taking photos, though, you may want to invest in a tripod, so you can stabilize your camera and capture all that magnificent light that sunsets give off.
You might also want to consider buying an attachable wide-angle lens for your smartphone, which will give you a bit more freedom if you love scenic panoramas.
Lastly, download a good photo editing app to your smartphone. Too much editing can ruin a great photo, but a light touch can just add a little more magic to an already-good photo!
Some phones come with a “sunset” button or setting, which automatically adjusts the settings for you. This is a great place to start until you get used to the various settings and are confident enough to play around with them.
If you want to adjust the settings on your own, we recommend using aperture priority mode. This will allow you to change the width of the opening in the lens, which is always a good choice when you’re working with photos that rely on light, like sunsets do.
Time of Day
Obviously, you can’t take sunset photos in the morning! The evening is where it’s all at, but don’t think that you have to wait until you see the sun going behind the horizon.
There’s a period of time known as the “golden hour”. This stretches to a bit of time before the sun sets, and a bit of time after the sun sets. During this period, the light is spectacular. This is when you get those red, orange, gold, and blue hues that make for super sunset photos.
Spend some time exploring what time during sunset you really love. The light has a warmer glow just before the sun actually sets. During the sunset, as it’s dipping behind the horizon line, you’ll get stark shadows and contrasts. And once the sun is down, there’s a brief window of time when the remaining glow looks amazing and really highlights silhouettes.
Creative Sunset Photo-Taking
Ready to start taking mesmerizing sunset photos? You can just point and shoot, and you’re bound to get some spectacular pics. But if you want to take them to the next level… Here’s what you should be paying attention to in order to snap some stunners.
Ue the Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is valid in all types of photography, including sunset photography. Don’t think that a sunset is all about the sun, either! The sun is what gives it the unique hue and light… but feel free to use various other items in your 9 grid sections to make your picture exciting.
Trees, mountains, people, clouds, birds, buildings… Whatever’s in your view, you can create a pleasing picture by placing each element on an intersecting line or along a line itself.
If you want to, you can set the grid to be visible on your screen when you’re taking photos, so you can really place your subjects smartly every time.
Framing the sunset can make for a lovely picture. You don’t need to frame it all the way around, like a proper picture frame… But finding other objects to frame the sun creatively can add an element of interest to the picture.
If you’re out in natural surroundings, you can use mountains, rocky outcrops, and trees. Even in urban environments, find buildings, houses, or other things you may find in your camera lens.
Framing your sunset adds depth to your picture. You’ll be able to see the sun in the distance, but the various elements framing it add a sense of distance and texture to your pic!
Don’t only look at the sky… If you look down during sunsets, you can find the most amazing patterns and colours in reflections. Any time you’re watching a sunset near a body of water, look out for this. It can be a river, the ocean, or even a watery swamp! Even puddles after the rain can make a beautiful mirror to capture the sunset in.
Alternatively, look for reflections in buildings, windows, or other reflective surfaces. Capturing sunsets from a different view can be incredibly unique… Especially in the case of something like a glass building, as it shows the stark contrast of modern, man-made architecture vs mother nature’s artwork!
The sunset is also the ideal opportunity to get some silhouette photos. The lighting is beautiful, there’s a glow that you don’t get any other time, and there’s a naturally-created contrast that makes for very striking pictures.
The setting to consider here is called “exposure compensation”. Most courses that focus on smartphone photography for teenagers won’t cover this, because it’s a little more advanced, but it’s invaluable for silhouettes specifically.
Here’s a quick overview on how it works. Your camera settings are designed to keep the subject properly exposed, which means the background is often over-exposed or under-exposed. That means that your subject (for example, a person) has just about the right amount of light on them for you to see the details, but the background may be way too white, or so dark that you can’t see any nuances.
Exposure compensation allows you to override that and choose to correctly expose the background and not the subject, which is exactly what happens with silhouettes. To find it on your smartphone, look for a small black and white sign with a +/- displayed on it.
Here’s a trick for smartphone photography for teenagers: You will need to change your exposure compensation before taking your photo. So frame your sunset photo on your phone’s screen, and find your exposure comp button. Dial it down into the negative (-) to darken your picture.
You should be able to see the picture on your screen darken, so you can really get the perfect silhouettes this way. Just don’t forget to change it back again after you’re finished, or all your pics will come out too dark!
We’ve already spoken about the “golden hour”. But you don’t need to be pointing your camera right at the sunset to take advantage of this beautiful, soft glow! It’s the ideal time to capture some portraits or nature photographs.
Rather than facing the sun, turn around and look at what the sun’s rays are landing on. You might be surprised at what you can find! This is the perfect time to catch amazing light rays interacting with the world around the sunset.
You can also use your exposure compensation setting here to make sure the light isn’t overexposed. If it comes out too bright, it can ruin the pic!
Awe-Inspiring Sunset Photographers
A smartphone photography course will start you off on the right foot. But the best way to stay motivated and keep pushing yourself is to get out there and take photos… And, of course, find photographers you admire and whose pictures inspire you.
Here are some photographers who take amazing sunset photos!
Ready to Take a Smartphone Photography Course?
Sunsets are one of the most stunning (and easily accessible) things to take photos of! You can also capture amazing sunsets in any season, from the new energy of spring to the warm colours of fall.
And using your smartphone is ideal if you don’t have a DSLR camera and you still want to capture beautiful memories. Don’t wait for it… There’s a sunset coming tonight that you can practice on!