Do You Have to Use a Special Lens to Photograph a Sunrise or Sunset?


Photographing a sunrise or sunset does not require a special lens, but certain techniques help to improve the quality of the light in the photograph. Digital Camera World recommends first changing the white balance to the daylight preset, as opposed to using the automatic setting.

When shooting at dawn or dusk, the sky is bright but the foreground is dark, and it can be difficult to capture both in detail. Shooting in raw mode while using an exposure that keeps the foreground slightly dark allows the photographer to alter the detail in the shadows during post processing.

Another way to achieve the same result is to use a neutral density graduated filter. One half of the neutral density filter is dark and the other is light. The dark side is positioned over the sky to reduce the contrast with the darker foreground.

A third way to resolve this issue is to take two photographs. One shot uses the correct exposure for the foreground, and the other uses the correct exposure for the sky. The two images can later be combined in Photoshop or Elements. If using this method, a tripod is helpful to ensure the same image is captured.

If a tripod is not used when shooting at sunrise or set, the shutter speed needs to be fast enough to avoid a blurry image. The shutter speed should be set to at least 1/30 second, or the ISO setting can also be increased to 200 or 400.