3 Quick Tips to Shoot Sunset Silhouettes

Bolinas Ridge // 37°54'40.3"N 122°37'29.9"W 

One hour North of San Francisco, Bolinas Ridge is an elevated trail about 2000ft above sea level.
Pictured is my girlfriend Lauren, who was walking toward me after skateboarding down the road. It was 7:45PM, 45 minutes before the sunset.

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CameraCanon 80D with an 18-135mm kit lens

Angle: The camera was directly in Lauren’s shadow, allowing it to expose the foreground properly. Below in some of the alternative shots you can see how direct sunlight had a negative effect on the colors/tones/overall image.

Metadata & Settings: 1/200 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100, Program Auto Mode, high-speed continuous shooting, manually defined focus zone

 GoPro mounted my chest showing the exact angle used to capture the shot!

GoPro mounted my chest showing the exact angle used to capture the shot!

 Un-edited image (straight off the camera)

Un-edited image (straight off the camera)

WATCH 3 tips on how to shoot Sunset Silhouette Shots

Alternative Shots

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Shooting Simply - GoPro

The Sunset District of San Francisco // 37°45'49" N 122°28'29" W

Shots like this that remind why the GoPro is my favorite camera.  

In GoPro: Professional Guide to Filmmaking, Nick Woodman (the founder) explains, “A GoPro as a proactive capture device, which differentiates itself from a reactive capture device, like a phone.” Reactive devices require a user to see something they want to shoot, pull their camera up to their face, and press a button.

GoPros are different. I was on my evening bike ride home, saw a dramatic sunset ahead, reached into my backpack to grab my GoPro, and long pressed the record button to start shooting (that’s called QuikCapture). My GoPro started taking photos and I just kept biking, experimenting with a few different angles while making sure I didn’t get hit by a car...

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Camera

GoPro Hero5. Time Lapse Photo mode, 5 second interval, RAW.

Setup

No mount or case was used. The GoPro was in the palm of my hand, oriented portrait style. I purposely was turning my head to look up toward the sky and slightly toward the GoPro to get the blue glare in my Sunski sunglasses.

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Edit

Below you'll see the step by step editing process in Adobe Lightroom. Each graphic shows how a specific Lightroom panel effected the photo, and brought it closer to it's final look.

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Thanks for reading my tutorial! I hope you enjoyed it.

Please feel free to comment any thoughts or questions below or hit me up on Instagram!

Top of Yosemite // Lightroom Editing Process

Yosemite Valley // 37°45'25" N 119°35'52" W 

This was shot at 5:30 PM, just as the sun was dipping below the 3000ft walls of Yosemite Valley. My friends and I had hiked to the Top of Yosemite Falls that day - this is taken around the corner from the waterfall.   

The hike is 8 hours, round trip, with a 2,700ft elevation gain. LOTS of switchbacks and big steps, but well worth the view! Read more about the hike on the National Park Service site.

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Camera 📸

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GoPro Hero5. Time Lapse Photo mode, 5-second interval, RAW.

angle

I had the GoPro in the palm of my hand without any mount/case on. I think this really paid off as my arm serves as a great leading line to my body then the valley/sun flare. The purple and red hues on the valley walls/my shirt aren’t added in post - those colors were clearly visible as the sun was dipping down into the sky. Pretty nuts.

Edit & Settings

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I edited this image in Adobe Lightroom for 10 minutes. Overall, I had a decent shot to start with. I had my GoPro on Flat color (not GoPro color) in order to have the most control over color in post-processing. GoPro color is a bit over saturated for me.

I had RAW image processing turned on in order to maximize control while editing. It was in Photo Time Lapse mode, set at 5 seconds (the fastest interval that you can shoot at while capturing RAW images).

Alternative Shots

The key to capturing one great image, is to capture many around an idea and pick the best.

Below are some additional images that didn't get selected as my favorite.

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Additional Info

The Backpack I'm wearing in the shot is a Peak Design Everyday backpack (30L)

Feel free to download the RAW image to edit it yourself! 👇