SUNSET: A BACKGROUND IN SEARCH OF A SUBJECT
Sunsets and sunrises are possibly the most-photographed subjects out there. I know a lot of people who come to my workshops were first inspired to take an interest in photography after a really good sunset. But let’s face it – they happen every day all over the world and are pretty easy to shoot. So how do you make your sunset photos stand out from the crowd?
To me a good sunset makes for a beautiful background, but without a distinctive feature to really set it off, it is not a complete picture. Consider the main photo at the top of this post. We were on tour, and had just one chance to shoot the sunset at Margaret River, WA. The sky was spectacular, but the scene lacked a defining feature to make it a great photo. I spotted a young couple nearby taking selfies and asked them if they would be in my photo, and in return I would send them a copy after the trip. Try to imagine this photo without those people: it would be exactly like the title of this post…a background in search of a subject.
In Queensland we are just heading into the season of good skies and great sunsets. Anticipation is half the battle…keep an eye out for a good sky during the afternoon and you can often predict when a good sunset is on the way. When you see it coming, don’t just head into the street and take photos looking over roofs and powerlines. Consider the places nearby that might offer a chance for a distinctive silhouette, or some eye-catching reflections.
Remember, whenever you see a good sunset you can be sure that a thousand other people will be out there taking photos. With a small amount of effort and a bit of imagination, you can make sure you get the photo that stands out from the crowd.
There is absolutely nothing accidental about any of these photos. I saw a good sunset and realised there was a photo opportunity coming. As the sun went down I deliberately positioned myself to take advantage of a good foreground, and turn an ‘OK’ opportunity into a well-crafted image.