Enriching Sunset Photography with Clouds

The shots below are both taken from the same vantage point, several months apart.  The first is a typical sunset shot, which gains most of its interest from the Cypress trees silhouetted in the foreground. A few wisps of cloud help add a bit of character to the sky. Satisfying, but very simple.


The second shot below shows the same grove of trees, but with a very different mood, from the cloud cover. There is still a sense of sunset from the salmon tones near the horizon, but much more drama from the summer storm clouds moving down the valley. So don’t skip the sunset photo shoot on days with clouds or threatening weather, the results may be even more useful than sunset shots from blue-sky days.


C. David Tobie


Turning Your Back on the Sunset

We are accustomed to shooting with our backs to the sun. But at sunrise and sunset, we tend to do just the opposite, and shoot images of the colors in the sky.  With the right landscape, that can produce some very satisfying images. Here’s an example of such a shot, from Tuscany in the Wintertime. TuscanWinter3-1

And yet, there is a sameness to such images, usually depending on clouds, or silhouetted trees, hills or buildings, to provide the visual interest to accompany the colors. The alternative is to turn your back on the sunset, and see if more creative options may await you in the direction you haven’t been looking. The image below was taken moments after the one above, and while it is less of the iconic sunset shot, it certainly has more of a story to offer. TuscanWinter2-1

The way the sunset colors wrap all the way around the horizon offers subtle color even in the opposing direction. The arched glass window above the door and the brass door bell show just a snatch of the reflected sunset to add further color. At the same time an entire domestic scene of the door, the bench, and the many plants tells a compelling story in the foreground, while a much more detailed landscape fills the background, given the better lighting in this direction.

C. David Tobie