Sunsets and how to get the best image from your phone.

May 17, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

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Its been a short while, but welcome back.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to take part in a podcast from the Lovely people over at Stand Up for Southport.

Surprise and shock were my first reactions followed by fear if I’m to be totally honest.

After a little think and a reassurance that I would survive the experience I said yes.

The topic of the podcast would be a short piece on getting the best possible sunset photo from your phone as that’s the camera you most probably you would be carrying with you if you came across a nice sunset and wanted to capture it.

I was contacted by Sarah who would be actually interviewing me and we arranged to meet down on the Southport shore.

Well we hit the jackpot on Sunsets. The day before was grey and the day after wasn’t much better but the Tuesday night was about as good a Sunset as you would get any time of the year.

So what makes for a good sunset, being in Ibiza would be a good start , however the budget wouldn’t stretch that far and if you have been to the Sunset at Cafe del Mar In San Antonio you would know it’s a bit noisy , nice vibe but all the microlites and power boats going by, ruins it a bit.

For me and this is very much a personal thing, is I like a bit of cloud at the end of the day. Not enough to obscure the Sunset but enough to capture the light as the Sun sets deeper over the horizon. The cloud will turn a golden orange glow and depending on the type of cloud, will lead to some very interesting colours and shapes. Without cloud it’s “just” a big orange ball getting lower in an increasingly deep blue sky.

So a nice mix of a bit of cloud, but not too much and a nice bright Sun.

If you’re going to the Sea front it’s always nice to get there a little early as you get to what’s referred to as the Golden hour. It’s not exactly an hour but that makes it easy to remember. All those soft golden hued Hollywood favourite movies tend to get shot about this time. The light is just lovely, not harsh as during mid day and as the Sun gets lower and the light waves get longer through the sky the colours change, orange through to reds. It really can be a wonderful sight.

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So to get the best out of your phone, you really need to set it up correctly.

First of, use the phones native camera, not an app like instagram or Facebook. These all add their own ingredients to the image. So just turn on your mobile camera. While you’re at it turn off all filters, again these may degrade the photo.

On all phones you can turn on a grid guide, it looks like your screen has nine boxes with a thin line denoting the boxes. These will help you keep the horizon straight but they don’t show up on the final image. They can be found in your camera menu.

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Most mobile cameras are fully automatic so shooting a Sunset can trip it up. If your image is to bright and your not getting all those colours simply bring down the exposure by touching your screen in a bright spot and you mobile will compensate. If the image is to dark then touch the screen in a dark part of the image and it should brighten up. If you’re feeling confident set your mobile into fully manual mode (it will be in the menu) and you will have full control of the exposure.

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If you can get some foreground interest, some people silhouetted against the sky, a structure (like our Pier) again this will be in silhouette as you phone will be exposing for the sky. Get creative look for puddles where you could possibly get some reflections into the shot. Hold your phone steady and take that shot. Once you have the shot maybe it’s time to simply put the phone away and just enjoy the moment.

If you are going the beach for that killer Sunset shot, just a word of caution, sands shift and if the tides not long out they may be very soft and you could find yourself in a spot of bother and don’t forget the Sun is setting so it’s going to get dark pretty fast pretty soon. You’re not on assignment for National Geographic (which would be very nice indeed) so above all stay safe.

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All the images for this blog were shot on my four year old Huawei P30 nothing really special. Did I have my “proper” camera with me, yes but for this it stayed in the bag.

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Many thanks to Andrew Brown of Stand Up For Southport for the suggestion and Sarah for the podcast.

In tandem with the podcast I have made available 12 of my favourite Sunsets from the last year or so, on my website. They are sized for desktop, laptop, Android/IOS Pad screens. They are free for personal use to replace any of the generic ones that came with your device. Just click on the download icon if on a mobile. If viewing on a Desktop or laptop it’s just above the image, look for the “Download” click and select original.

Just click on the link below (or copy and paste) to take you to the Sunset download gallery.

https://www.davebrownphotography.co.uk/p796234266

Stand up for Southport Podcast below.

https://open.spotify.com/episode/4LGNQRMwNeDaNqOcAljnE3?si=kcRiMgImQ8aQkDHdEORO4Q&fbclid=IwAR0DO_J9AUJWduQM2b0BNAcSS8PeIOSAhnDPc7maNnybre9DjMyPdXAdY0s&nd=1


https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-stand-up-for-southport-podcast/id1672830803?i=1000613263764
 

 


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