infographic stating tips for shooting at sunset with natural light

Shooting at sunset with natural light is a remarkable way to capture a wedding. Beyond its inherent beauty, this lighting technique is also incredibly versatile. It allows photographers to seamlessly shoot ceremonies and portraits while taking advantage of that magical golden hour light. However, mastering sunset wedding photography and shooting within this limited time frame can be challenging. In this blog post, we will explore three tips for capturing the best photos at sunset using natural light. From utilizing natural diffusion to incorporating polarizing filters, these techniques will help ensure that your photos turn out beautifully. Let’s dive in!

Wedding Shooting At Sunset With Natural Light

1. Find Natural Diffusion

a wedding couple kissing on the beach in a dipping poseImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @sarafrance

Utilizing natural light can add an emotional touch to your wedding photos. It allows you to capture the raw and natural beauty of the couple and the setting sun, giving off a more diffused and flattering light. The first way to achieve this is by using a diffusion filter on your lens, which can work wonders in making the light more gentle on the skin and eyes.

Secondly, look for natural diffusion in the surrounding areas, such as foliage, buildings, or other structures, to create a soft and even light source. Be mindful of the direction of the light and how it falls on your subjects. Try to embrace backlighting from the sun as it sets, creating a dramatic contrast to your subject. You can use shadows and highlights to your advantage and experiment with various angles and distances to make the most of the stunning golden hour lighting.

2. Make The Most Of The Open Sky

a wedding couple kissing by a beach while the sun is setting behind themImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @jorgesantiagophoto

To make the most of the golden hour, utilize the open sky and its expansive canvas to your advantage. Seek out locations that have unobstructed views of the sky and position your subjects in such a way that the light flatters them. Shooting slightly upwards can also enhance the warmth of the sunset colors, while shooting downwards can create a more dramatic effect.

Remember to pay attention to the light's direction and adjust your camera settings accordingly. Be mindful of the light sources and use them to your advantage. Try different lenses and play with the aperture to get dreamy bokeh or to keep everything in sharp focus. Being aware of your location and angle in relation to the sun can help avoid any harsh shadows or blown-out highlights. Look for areas with texture and interesting shadows that will make your photos stand out from the rest. 

Suggested Read: All About Natural Light Wedding Photography

3. Utilize Reflectors

a wedding couple holding their hands up together facing the sun during the sunsetImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @looyengaphoto

Reflectors help you enhance the ambient light and eliminate harsh shadows, creating a smooth and glowing effect on your subjects. To make the most out of this technique, position your reflector between the sun and your subjects, ensuring that the reflector is not too close to avoid excessive light that can ruin your shot.

Experiment with different colors of reflectors to create an artistic and dramatic effect. For instance, gold reflectors add warmth and a vintage touch, while silver reflectors offer subtle highlights and soft reflections. Weddings offer a great opportunity for using reflectors, such as capturing the bride's dress in perfect light or highlighting a couple's facial features while standing in front of a beautiful sunset backdrop. 

Timing is everything! So, if you’ve hired a second shooter, you can get them to hold the reflector at the perfect angle for you as you move around the couple rather than solely relying on the sun's natural movements. For example, try shooting a bride and groom with the sun setting behind them and a gold reflector to their left. This should create a beautiful, warm-than-usual, soft light enveloping the couple and the surrounding areas.

Suggested Read: Sunset Wedding Photography Tips And Inspiration

Bonus Tip: Find Unique And Interesting Perspectives 

Look for interesting perspectives to add a unique touch to your wedding images. Try moving around the couple and looking for new backdrops to showcase them in fresh and unique ways. Utilize the environment around you to create depth and interest in your pictures. For instance, use elements like trees, grass, rocks, walls, or pavements to frame your shot. Remember, creativity and patience are key when trying to capture the perfect image.

Get close to capturing intricate wedding details that will add depth to your photos. For example, you can photograph a close-up shot of the bride's dress or a floral arrangement on the wedding table.

You can also incorporate interesting foreground elements like flowers or leaves to add depth and interest to your photos. Keep your focus on the couple and the emotions they are experiencing, and let the natural light do the rest.

Further Read: Sunset Wedding Photos: 5 Tips To Help You Get Them Right

a wedding couple looking at each other holding their wedding bouquet during the sunsetImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @melissafechapmanphotography

To avoid over or underexposed images with sunset photography, don't forget to adapt your camera settings to the changing light conditions. Start by finding the right exposure and white balance to ensure accurate colors. Plus, ensure you come prepared with all the right gear for shooting at sunset; this includes a tripod, extra lenses, and camera settings that work best in natural light. For great sunset photos, try to create a more dynamic and visual appeal using a lower aperture setting to blur the background and bring the texture of your subject to the forefront. Utilizing all the wedding shooting tips, get creative and add your signature touch to bring out the beauty of your shots.

Here at ShootDotEdit, our mission is to empower the success of professional wedding photographers. We love bringing you resourceful tips that help you make the most of your time by doing what you love. To free up your time, we offer professional photo editing services that match your style. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, check out our pricing plans.

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