Everyone loves a sunrise or sunset and they almost always make a good photograph. The light provides a good dynamic range and contrast in the image and no matter how many times we’ve seen one it is always just as beautiful to watch.

Now when it comes to photographing them some planning is required if you want to capture a specific shot. There are several factors that come into play when chasing down a vivid sunset or sunrise and even if you are prepared you aren’t guaranteed a good shot. I’ve written this guide to give a few tips and tricks on capturing those wonderful light shows.

Sunrise or Sunset Beach

Some of the best sunrise or sunsets shots are when the colorful light from the sun is just above the ocean, creating some great reflections and a sense of awe. If you want to capture the sun at the beach you first have to find out which way the closest beach to you is facing.

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so find out which way the closest beach to you is facing as this will dictate whether you have to get up really early or can catch the sun setting in the evening. Unfortunately if you near a north or south facing beach you may be out of luck in capturing the sun just above the ocean, but you may be able to capture it along the beach depending on the surrounding landscape.


Check the weather before heading out to capture that wonderful sunrise/sunset because the clouds can ruin the chances of seeing a beautiful light show in the sky. If it is only partly cloudy this can be an advantage compared to a clear sky because the clouds give a bit more interest to the various colors reflecting and bouncing around.

Colorful vs orange

As you may have noticed that sometimes the sunset/sunrise can have a range of colors and other times its more of an orange and red color. This is dependent on many factors but basically if there has been a storm recently then you are more likely to get a more colorful sky. Sunsets tend to be more colorful than sunrises because there are more particles in the air in the evening so the light bounces around a bit more.

Check the time

One of the keys to capturing a sunset or sunrise is to know when they are going to occur as its not much use turning up to a location and the sun is already up or its already dark. There are a few website and apps that can tell you the time the a sunrise/sunset is going to occur based on your location. Even Google will tell you at the top of your search results if you type in sunrise and your location. I personally use an android app called Sunrise Sunset Calculator which can give you information on your current location or on a point on a map.

Length of The Sunset/Sunrise

Depending on how far from the equator you are will depend on the speed of the sunrise or sunset and also the season you are in. Generally the further away from the equator you are the slower the sunset or sunrise will happen and there will be more time in twilight in the summer months. This means you get more time to experiment in the light and try various shots before the sun disappears.