Photo Tip - Sunsets

The Taj Mahal, Agra, (photo by Julian Love)
The Taj Mahal, Agra

The first Insight Guide – to Bali in 1970 – pioneered the use of creative full-colour photography in travel guides. Since then, we have worked closely with some of the finest travel photographers to bring you stunning images within our guides. If you're a keen travel photographer, or just like to take great shots on your holidays, then follow this blog to find regular tips from our team of photographers and helpful in-depth advice from our Travel Photography guidebook.


The first thing to realise when photographing a sunset is that you don’t have to shoot directly at the sun each time. If the light is exceptionally clear and bright, face away from it to see its reddish glow illuminating the scene stunningly.

But if you do choose to shoot the sun itself, the two keys to success will be composing the sun against an interesting part of the horizon, and getting the exposure right. As the examples here show, it’s what else is in the shot that makes all the difference, whether an ancient temple, or outstanding rocks on which the sun is putting on a departing show. The sun alone is never enough. When shooting into the sun, remove all filters to avoid ghost images. Polaroid filters are effective only if the sun is off to one side.

Overexposure is the worst mistake; this kind of shot wants colour richness. And if you want more landscape detail than a deep silhouette can provide, consider shooting a bracketed sequence for later exposure blending.
A telephoto will make the sun’s disc larger in the frame, and a really long lens (500mm equivalent focal length or more) can be spectacular, with the disc large enough to be a backdrop for a flock of geese, for example, in silhouette. Wide-angle compositions can also work well, with the sun a pinpoint and the horizon a wide sweep of silhouette. A cloud passing in front of the sun in this wide-angle scenario can be useful for the composition as well as lowering the contrast.  Of course, never look directly at the sun (especially through a long lens), even when setting or rising.

Photographer: Julian Love   1/50 sec,  f/11, iso100,  Focal length 24mm


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