Sunsets & Soft Water Photography Tutorial

It is undeniable that the Philippines is one of the destinations not just for amazing islands, but beautiful sunsets too! With easy access to cameras and all these sunset selfies and landscape shots, how do you step up your game and take better photos?


Anyone can take a photo of the sun and the ocean but how do you get that “fluffy” effect on waters?


And it is not as difficult and as pro as it seems. Read on for the tutorial. Will try to keep it as beginner-friendly as possible but this is intended for those who already have basic knowledge about photography, especially with the exposure triangle.


Things you need:

A camera that can be set to MANUAL MODE and BULB MODE. Doesn’t matter if it’s full frame, crop, or whatever as long as you can set the aperture, shutter and ISO. A remote is also optional but I’m using the EOS App.. You will need the remove to eliminate the possibility of a camera shake.

A sturdy tripod.

The tricky part: Neutral Density (ND) filters. The main purpose of this filter is that it reduces the amount of light entering the camera, which is essential since we are doing LONG EXPOSURE SHOTS. (A slow shutter speed allows more light to enter the camera, and we will compensate it by using the ND filter. It is similar to wearing sunglasses. There are levels of ND filters and I use ND16  (that’s the most that I have) for my images when dealing with the sun.


Camera Settings:

  • Image Quality: RAW. – DO NOT FORGET to shoot in RAW because you will have to post process the image and correct the colors. JPEG compresses the image and it will be difficult to correct your images.
  • ISO – Set your ISO to the lowest possible option, probably a 100 or a 200 depending on your camera’s model. Less iso, less light, less noise.
  • Aperture- I set my aperture at the lowest possible as well. Kit lenses may go as low as F/22 but my lens can only reach F/16. Note that a lower aperture will allow less light to ender, but will have a wider depth of field.
  • Shutter Speed- Make it at least 15 seconds to make the water soft. You cannot NOT adjust the shutter to something faster for it will freeze the motion of the water. If in case you have already brought down the iso and aperture to the lowest yet the photo is still overexposed, you might need to wait for less light conditions OR purchase a neutral density filter that blocks light. There are no exact settings for the correct exposure will greatly depend on the lighting conditions.
  • Post-processing-  I do minimal post-processing and color correction using Adobe lightroom. I do not manipulate my photos and add nor subtract objects. I just play with the basic settings and that’s about it. Check this one out:

Important notes to keep in mind:

  • Photography involves playing with OR even manipulating light. Learn to assess proper light conditions and to know whether your photo is under or overexposed.
  • Do not forget your foreground! Horizons are beautiful but will be better when you have a foreground subject. It adds depth!
  • Timing is everything! They say patience is key, even in photography. I had more waiting than actual shooting of the photos.
  • It’s not about the gear, but sometimes it is about the gear. There are articles telling you that it’s about the story blah blah but frankly, I’ve been unit hopping and I’ve never been satisfied with other brands as I am now with Canon! I love my 6D camera and my new favorite lens, the 24mm sigma art, the details and the sharpness are just amazing. There are limitations and pros to each lens. For beginners, the kitlens is already okay. There are tons of possibilities as long as you know your lighting and composition.


Done with sunsets? I also have a tutorial on how to shoot the night sky, read more HERE.


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