Sunset at Vieques : How to take that photo

Sunset at Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

How to Take that Photo (HTTP)  


Camera - Any model with a manual mode
A wide angle lens (optional)
A sturdy Tripod
ND Filters/ Grad ND filters ( optional, a hack can do the trick)
Camera remote (optional)


I guess its pretty clear that you need to be at a beach. Get up early for sunrise or , for lazy bums like me, head off to the beach at sunset. It might help to scout the beaches for a good place to photograph before hand. Set up the camera on the tripod and don't forget the rule of thirds.

The above photo was shot for 15 s, f/22,ISO 100, with ND12 filter.

The photo has to be exposed for at least 4-5 secs to get the desired effect of the water on the rocks. If the waves are slow and calm then it might be wise to expose more, adjust the aperture, have a low ISO and might require an ND filter.

The real difficulty with the photo is not setting up the shutter speed, aperture or ISO. The light from the sky at sunset is far greater than the sea. So the whole sky will be washed out with the long exposure required for the sea. This cannot be adjusted in a software like photoshop or lightroom since the information is lost in the RAW picture itself.

That is when the Graduated ND Filter helps. Graduated ND filters are generally useful in landscape photography since skies requires less exposure to get the correct colours than the landscape.

But here since the photo is exposed  for a long time, there is a simple hack. Use a piece of paper/card and cover the top third of the lens (which captures the sky) for half the shutter time. There! we have mimicked a grad ND filter. 

It helps to use a remote when taking long exposure photos, since in the process of pressing the shutter release button the camera might shake. Alternatively, the timer  mode on the camera  can be used since we are in no real hurry here.

And that's how you take that photo.

Sharing feels good and purifies your soul (true story!)

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