Behind the Photo: Telephoto Sunset

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Thanks for reading! Andrew.



Bethells Beach Sunset: Canon EOS 40D with Sigma 50-150 f2.8 EX lens, 1/350 second at f2.8, ISO 100

How do you take a photo of a sunset? I’d just finished taking some photos of my girlfriend. A cloudy, unpromising afternoon had morphed into a spectacular and colourful sunset as the sun slipped through a gap between the clouds and the horizon.  We were in the sand dunes, the sun heading towards the horizon so fast that I didn’t have time to get to the beach and set up my camera and tripod and take the photos that I’d originally planned (the sun sets faster the closer you get to the equator – in northern New Zealand landscape photography is more like action photography).

I had a Sigma 50-150mm f2.8 lens on my camera and decided to take some photos of the setting sun with it. I didn’t want to look at the sun through the viewfinder with a telephoto lens (it’s not a good idea with any lens), so I switched to live view. I got ready to focus, looked at the LCD screen – and realised that I had an image. I experimented with the settings as the sun went down and found I got the best effects with the lens set to its widest aperture and its minimum focusing distance. It threw everything out of focus, including the grass on top of the sand dunes (which I shot through to create a recognisable silhouette).

Sometimes, it pays to ignore the ‘rules’.

Sunset Photo Gallery

Here are some more photos of the sunset.The images with the roundest sun were taken at the widest aperture of the lens, f2.8. When I stopped down the sun took on the shape of the aperture blades – hence the octagonal appearance (the last photo is the best example):

Bethells Beach Sunset: Canon EOS 40D with Sigma 50-150 f2.8 EX lens, 1/500 second at f2.8, ISO 100

Bethells Beach Sunset: Canon EOS 40D with Sigma 50-150 f2.8 EX lens, 1/180 second at f2.8, ISO 400

Bethells Beach Sunset: Canon EOS 40D with Sigma 50-150 f2.8 EX lens, 1/500 second at f2.8, ISO 400

Bethells Beach Sunset: Canon EOS 40D with Sigma 50-150 f2.8 EX lens, 1/180 second at f4, ISO 200

Bethells Beach Sunset: Canon EOS 40D with Sigma 50-150 f2.8 EX lens, 1/60 second at f6.6, ISO 100

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