6 Secrets to Shooting and Retouching Dramatic Sunsets

Shooting and editing sunsets and sunrises can be tricky with such a wide dynamic range. In this video, there are six tips on how to achieve those dramatic, attention grabbing shots.

I remember how hard shooting sunsets and sunrises were when I first started photography. The first image I ever took that I liked was after a storm, the sun had just dipped behind the horizon, and the sky was burnt orange with matted black and white clouds. I captured the sky perfectly — almost certainly by chance — but the foreground was completely silhouetted and I had no idea how to counter that problem. The image worked anyway, but future images would not be so kind.

In this tutorial, Serge Ramelli, photographer and YouTuber famous for his HDR landscape and cityscapes, goes over six key tips for getting dramatic sunset images using Lightroom.

What's your best advice for capturing the mood and atmosphere of a striking sunset or sunrise? Do you prefer to capture multiple explosures and then blend them? Do you use a gradient filter? Or do you lean on your sensor's ability to capture a lot of information in its raw files? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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6 Comments

David Pavlich's picture

I'm a graduate of the 'Serge Ramelli School of Restraint'. :-) Most of the tips I've gotten for LR came from Serge and Anthony Morganti.

David Pavlich's picture

Please note that I placed a ' ;-) ' after my remark.

Darren Loveland's picture

With all due respect, I constantly find myself "unlearning" things I picked up from Ramelli about 5-6 years ago. He's got great enthusiasm and you can learn some good basics from his videos, but I find his style of landscapes to be way over cooked and too surreal for my liking.

David Pavlich's picture

That's what makes photography so wonderful. Can you imagine if everybody processed their images the same way? I like Serge's stuff, but I don't expect everyone to. But then, I do a lot of tone mapped stuff as well. As long as you like what you produce, then you're doing the right thing. I don't for one second expect everyone to like my stuff either, but I do, so I'm a happy guy!

Well said. I like trying out new forms of processing every once in a while. It just gets kind of stale doing the same thing all the time. If the effect gets "over cooked" for my taste I may still take specific areas and lighly blend them in to get a bit of pop. Serge has been a wealth of YouTube content over the years that undoubtedly helped many find their style, even if it means finding it not to be their taste.

Darren Loveland's picture

Well said, cheers buddy!