How to Take Insta-worthy Sunset Photos


How often have you taken a photo of a spectacular sunset, only to find that you didn’t capture its majesty or brilliance? Turns out, there is a lot that can go into these Instagram-able pics. Check out these landscape photography tips to help you achieve that wow-worthy sunset photo!

Plan Ahead

Sometimes, you get lucky and are in the right place and time to capture a beautiful sunrise or sunset. More often than not, however, you find yourself running through a park and racing to a vantage point, hoping that you’ll be able to catch the last rays of golden hour. If you’re traveling around and see a good vista for your photo, scope it out a day (or at least a few hours) before to make sure you know the perfect spot for your photo. Get there at least a half an hour before sunrise or sunset so you can set up your gear, consulting a sunrise and sunset calculator for the area so you don’t accidentally arrive too late. 

Read the Weather

Sometimes you arrive on time, your battery is charged and you are all ready to go … only to find that the light show is a little disappointing. There are certain natural elements that you can look for in advance that can help you predict if the sunrise or sunset will be worth the effort:

  • Clouds and Cloud Cover: Nothing makes a sunset more dramatic than having interesting clouds for the light to paint, and high to mid-level clouds are most effective. Check your favorite weather report and look for cloud cover percentages between 30 to 70 percent at sunset. 
  • Clean Air: While dust and particulates can enhance the brilliance of sunset photos, making them appear more red or orange. clean air can also be effective. When the lower atmosphere is especially clean, such as after a rain or windstorm, more vivid colors can pass through the atmosphere, making greens and blues pop. 
  • Humidity: The amount of humidity in the air will also influence a sunset’s colors, as lower humidity produces more vibrant colors.
  • Wind: Wind can either enhance or destroy a gorgeous sunset shot. A breeze can keep the air clean, but it can also push away clouds that may otherwise make for a great image. A good weather site can alert you any potential wind and cloud changes, helping you predict the chances for a postable pic. Also, if there’s wind, make sure you have a good tripod to keep your camera steady.

 rv_rental_landscape_photography_4-(1).pngWeather makes a huge difference in the making of an epic sunset photo.


Image Stabilization

Whether you’re doing your sunset photography with a smartphone or a more fancy camera, a tripod can make all the different for your golden hour photos. That’s because the lighting at this time of day is often darker than usual, and any kind of camera shaking from your hand can make the image blurry. Smartphone tripods are often small, lightweight and affordable, while dSLR tripods can range greatly. An easy rule of thumb – the more heavy the tripod, the more it will stabilize your image against blurriness.

Location, Location, Location

While you can find great sunsets wherever you go, some places are just made for gorgeous landscape shots. For example, Cruise America is headquartered in Arizona, which many people believe offer some of the most spectacular sunsets in the country. One reason? Dust. The colors of the sunset are determined by something called scattering, which is small particles and molecules in the atmosphere that change the direction of light, causing them to scatter. Pollution, dust particles and our infamous Monsoon dust storms can all enhance the colors of Arizona sunsets, giving them their distinct, red hue. Check out available RV rentals in Arizona to plan out your Arizona sunset tour.  

 rv-rental-landscape-photography_2-(1).jpgThe Lost Dutchman State Park is a popular park for Phoenix-area sunset photography.


For the More Advanced

It’s a little technical, but photography-training website SLR Lounge offers a brief video on how to capture the best images by managing your exposure, color and composition.

The most important requirement for capturing a great sunset photo is your enthusiasm. No matter what location, Cruise America can help you travel there in comfort. We offer a variety of RV rental options that cater to whatever size you need to start your photography adventure.