Secondary sunset provides distinctively unique lighting. Learn what it is and how you can apply it in photography.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Table of contents
What’s secondary sunset?
Almost every photographer, nature enthusiast, and non-photographer will appreciate the lighting burst that floods the sky with electrifying colors during the secondary sunset.
That’s the period approximately 15 minutes after sunset. You might experience a dazzling crimson-orange glow that gives way to a stunning magenta color that blends perfectly with the deep blue sky as dusk creeps in.
Unfortunately, you might not always experience the secondary sunset, which can be disappointing to even the most patient photography professionals.
You can go out and wait patiently for this moment, but sometimes come back home empty-handed.
However, the occurrence of a secondary sunset depends on numerous factors. They might include the current cloud cover, geographical location, season of the year, and atmospheric conditions.
Among all these factors, prevailing cloud cover reigns superior. Too much cloud cover can impede the secondary sunset, predominantly when densely populated over the horizon.
On the contrary, some less dense cloud covers might be a good indication that a unique light display might occur shortly after sunset.
Excessive moisture or water vapor in the atmosphere resulting from a recent heavy downpour can also be a good indication of the occurrence of a second sunset later in the evening.
How to take spectacular secondary sunset photos
Indeed, secondary sunset photography has gained a lot of popularity. The beautiful pinkish, golden, or reddish skies can be a remarkable sight to behold.
That means that any photographer should capture such golden moments for their images to stand out from the crowd. There are plenty of photos online with impressively colorful skies, but only a few can make a lasting impression.
So, what should you do to create impactful and professional photos when capturing secondary sunset?
The following are a few tips to take spectacular secondary sunset photographs:
1. Be patient
To become an accomplished photographer, you must exercise the highest degree of patience. You can’t show up, take a few photos, and depart early, hoping to have taken high-quality images.
Instead, consider arriving at your selected location early in advance and stay as long as it takes.
Consequently, you also boost your chances of capturing the most stunning images.
Since secondary sunsets are some of the shortest periods to capture unique photos, you want to arrive early and experience the event as it unfolds from start to end.
Furthermore, stay a bit longer until dusk when lights begin fading out. Remember, it’s not over until it’s dark, and sometimes the best lights come out when least expected late into the blue hours.
2. Understand the sun’s position
While you can be pretty lucky when it comes to sunset photography, there are various things to consider when planning to maximize your chances of shooting amazing photos.
One of the essential factors to consider is the position of the sun. It’s imperative to understand the position from sunrise to sunset.
Understanding the sun’s position is crucial in helping you determine how the light will behave. You’ll have a better idea of whether your main subject will be bathed in light or shadowed during sunset.
Sunlight has a significant impact on the prevailing landscape, and knowing this in advance can help you prepare best for what’s to come.
Furthermore, you will have a better idea of how the color will take shape in the sky.
3. Watch out for lens flare
A significant challenge when taking secondary sunset images is lens flare. It’s difficult to avoid, especially when taking pictures while facing the sun’s direction.
Even when capturing the most impactful image, lens flare can quickly compromise the wow factor.
However, you can quickly deal with this situation in a couple of ways, including the use of a lens hood or adjusting your camera’s perspective to eliminate the sun from the frame.
While these two techniques will work with almost any given scenario, they’re not ideal.
The first method isn’t compatible with filters, while the latter jeopardizes the photographic composition.
So, what’s the solution? Well, you can fix this by capturing several images that you can later blend in post-processing. While this option is highly advanced, you can achieve impressive results.
Doing that is simple, and it begins by placing the camera on your tripod and setting up the composition before taking the shot.
Then, place two fingers in front of the lens to help cover up the sun before taking the shot. While doing this, ensure there are zero flares in the existing landscape.
4. Exposure bracketing
Exposure bracketing is another excellent way of taking stunning photos during sunset. This technique works wonders during post-processing and is similar to what you do when preventing lens flares.
The primary difference is that rather than using a couple of fingers in front of the lens, you’ll capture several images with varying exposure levels.
For instance, you can choose to capture several images exposed for the landscape and others for the sky.
You can then narrow them down to a couple of images that can be blended using your favorite post-processing software, like Photoshop.
The resulting image will have a precisely exposed foreground and the sky. When performed correctly, this method gives excellent results.
All photographers must find inspiration from lighting, composition, and mood to achieve their creative capability. It’ll propel you to more prominent heights in doing stunning photographic projects
Apply the tips to take exceptional secondary sunset images. You can also use many other techniques, including experimenting with shutter speeds, using different focal lengths, and focusing on the composition. Take your time and try them out for stunning sunset images.
Featured image courtesy of Canva.
About David Em
David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined and a published portrait photographer. He created Portraits Refined to help portrait photographers grow in every area.