silhouette of man with oil lamp on shore at sunset
Photo by Bhola shanker Katariya on

We all take sunset photos, don’t we.  We see that magnificent colors just shooting at us over the horizon, giving us that great shot of color.  Who wouldn’t take a few great shots of sunset photos.  But, after you see one sunset after another, sometimes you can actually get bored of them.  What can you do to make those hundreds of sunset photos more interesting?  Here it is:


Yes, true, isn’t when you think about it.  A beautiful sunset with something in the foreground of the sunset. I am going to throw out a couple of pictures from the collection of “Photos of the Week” and you tell me if these sunset photos just make the photo so much  more interesting:

Photo taken by : Sasin Tipchai

Now, imagine these two photos above, or even the top photo without the objects in the foreground.  They are dark, no detail, but, they frame the sunset in the top photo, in the others, they tell a story with color.  Color my story.  That was our subject yesterday. If you had someone look at a variety of photos, their eyes would be drawn to the ones with the vibrant colors.  Now, here is the question of the day, and be truthful with yourself:  If you had a gallery of photos, would most people be drawn to the photos of just sunsets, or sunsets with a silhouette in them that tell a story, or a silhouette that is used for framing the sunset?  9 out 10 people prefer some subject material in their sunset photos. 



We previously discovered that the pretty colors in a sunset aren’t always enough. A winning sunset photo needs a star. In today’s lesson we’ll discuss adding silhouettes to get better photographs of the sun.


In previous articles, we have mentioned that the star could be an interesting palm tree, a seagull flying by, or basically anything. The gorgeous colors are the backdrop to our star, not the focus of the photo. But, much like our regular non-sunset landscape photos, the most effective star is a person—people like looking at people! You will get the viewer more easily engaged in a photo where there are people being shown.

In a sunset photograph there’s two ways to add a person. In silhouette showing no detail and the traditional route that shows full detail. Today’s sunset photography photo tip will discuss adding a silhouetted person or other subject. The principles are valid no matter what your “star” is. Done well, the end result can be one of the most exquisite photographs you could create.

When adding a silhouette, the key element to keep in mind is that you are adding a shape, not a person (or bird or tree). Your shape will be pure black with no detail. In sunset photography, getting the pure black shape with no detail is pretty basic. In our earlier discussions, we learned that if we take our meter readings from the sky—everything else in our sunset photo is going to be underexposed and black. Ta-daaa!

photo by Rachel Titiriga

Previously, our concern was to bring detail into the dark areas, now we just let them go dark. To add a silhouette, the first step is to meter from the sky, not the person. If you meter from the person, your camera will make a mighty attempt at setting an exposure to show detail. In other words, you have to take the camera off automatic. Meter for the sky and then re-compose to put your “star” in the correct place in the photo. Easy.

The second concern we have in adding a silhouette is actually harder to get right. Remember, you’re adding a shape and everything but the sky is black with no detail. Including the ground. When you add your shape, it has to “read” correctly. By “read” I mean when someone looks at your photo, they must be able to instantly tell what it is. If your subject is standing in front of some other object, like a palm tree, rock or whatever, the silhouetted shapes will blend together and distort the image.

photo by Manfred Moitzi

This idea is hard to put in words, but easy to understand. I’m sure you have seen photos where the silhouettes blended together and neither looks right. A person with a palm tree growing out of their head, a palm tree with a seagull’s wing sticking out of the trunk and so on. Be sure that there is nothing intersecting with your silhouetted shape, including the ground. I frequently see silhouettes where the top half of the model is in silhouette, but the bottom half is lost in the ground. You may have to shoot up at your star from a slightly lower vantage point to avoid this sort of blending.

The third factor to consider is the shape itself. Not only do you have to watch out for your silhouette not reading correctly because it blends with others, it can blend with itself too! Arms crossing in front of the body or hanging (with no gaps) along the sides, legs together and so on. To get an effective silhouette, the pose is vital, more so than in a normal photo of this person. The fact that she is a pretty girl doesn’t matter in this case. In a silhouette, no one is going to be able to tell what she looks like.

photo by Julian Garduno

Take photo examples from magazines and color them with a black magic marker. Would that pose “read” and be effective if that was all you could see of the person? Hats and other clothing could dramatically alter the shape and look weird in silhouette. It may look like a tiara in the wedding photos, but in silhouette, it looks like devil’s horns sticking out of her head. Study various poses for their shapes and find several you can use when you are creating silhouettes. Add them to your notebook so you will always have them at hand when the situation arises.

Silhouettes are not only effective in sunset photography, but also at weddings. For example, pose the couple in silhouette in front of a stained glass window. Or, at the door of the church with the light from outside silhouetting them.

Practice today’s landscape photography photo tip on how to get better sunset photography by including silhouettes. There are many times when a silhouette is just the thing you need to separate you from the crowd, its worth learning how to do them well.

About the Author: Dan Eitreim writes for He has been a professional photographer in Southern California for over 20 years. His philosophy is that learning photography is easy if you know a few tried and true strategies.



Photo by Petr Vyšohlíd on Unsplash

The “Golden Hour” as defined in the photographic world is:

  • 1 hour before actual sunset
  • 1 hour after actual sunrise

There seems to be something about those specific times that the sun, with it’s angle at that time, has to send it’s light through a haze, or atmosphere that causes lighting to turn kind of an orange glow all over. Not just for a sunset or sunrise, but, the whole land, or valley, or whatever, is kind of a golden glow. Some day’s that glow can be stronger than others, but, it’s there, and it is a photographer’s dream to be out taking photos at that time.

The Golden hour with the light at such a good angle lit up the whole valley, with orange clouds, and even the mountains created this golden glow.

I have taken, personally, some photos that the timing was right. The glow of the sun, before the sunset, was just amazing. I was even surprised to find that one day, while outside, we were in a crowd waiting to get into a concert, when I looked up to find a building that is built in grey colored granite rock. So, it should be grey in color. But, with the “golden Hour” going on, it lit that building up to produce a beautiful orange cast on that building:

The Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the light cast from the “Golden Hour”. This building is grey granite, not golden yellow.

People were saying that was in the line: “oh that’s nice!” I, being a photographer was, “YEAH, it’s nice, I’m taking a picture.” Hmm, the difference between a photographer and a “non-photographer”. We will never miss that chance.

Here are some more beautiful pictures of the “Golden Hour”:

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash
Photo by Paul Rysz on Unsplash
Smart Phone photographers: A blog site just for you! Go to:


two person on boat in body of water during golden hour
Photo by Johannes Plenio on
Special note: recently I was looking for a subject to write on for this blog, and came across another website that was showing how many different subjects there are on photography. And they came up with:

51 different subjects !

I have decided to take on that challenge and see if I can share my knowledge of all 51 different subjects.


white clouds
Photo by Ruvim on

In scenery photos, I believe the best photos will include clouds. Generally, as long as you have a foreground or a true landscape photo with the clouds in the picture, you can just follow the light meter. But, be aware of certain clouds that could throw the exposure setting off on your landscape photo.

Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash

If you have a lot of “white” clouds in your photo, the light meter of your camera may turn the rest of the landscape dark to compensate for all the white. The photo above has 2 issues to watch out for: 1- if you just use your light meter in automatic mode, the white clouds will probably not be white. They will be a darker shade, almost grey in color. That’s because the light meter thinks everything is grey. So, these clouds are not as white as they were in real life. 2- Also, because of that the landscape is now darker as well.

Here is a better view of what the image really was: The clouds are white, and now we have a better exposure of the landscape as well. Oh, there’s color in the landscape that was missed with the first photo. But, perhaps you like the first one better? You decide, but the first one is way underexposed.

What to do: make sure if you are shooting with automatic mode, try using your “over / under” exposure compensation dial, and over expose (+) your photo.

What if you want to make your clouds the important part of the subject, like a sunrise or sunset:

Photo by Igor Kasalovic on Unsplash

In this case, for a sunset, the clouds in the photo just adds to the colors. The capture the reflections they get from the actual sunset and make their own color. Often you can get this type of photo, just by using your camera in automatic mode. But, I would certainly experiment with this by taking the photo at what the camera light meter does, and then take one picture over expose (+) and then one underexposed (-) to see the color differences. It will mean the difference between a good photo and a bad photo.

I have on my Facebook page, a photographer that shoots the sunset every night, and the colors are incredible. I have someone else who lives in a different part of the valley shoot the same sunset, and I am bored. And then I saw it myself, and I will go with the first photographer. So, experiment with the exposure control even if you like what you got, and see if you can get a better one.

Photo taken by Lanny Cottrell

Now take a look at this above photo, with a variety of clouds and the mountains in brilliant color. This was taken with a circular polarizing filter, and this totally enhanced all the colors, plus, kept the exposure perfect. This is because there is more “scenery” in the photo than the clouds. But, look at that photo again, and picture it without the clouds. Not quite so pretty is it? So, clouds are truly important when taking photos.

Photo by Fabian Wiktor on

I love what another photographer put as the steps necessary to get good cloud photos:

1- Use all your lenses, telephoto zooms, wide angle lenses, general walk arounds. Zoom in, zoom out, photograph panoramas, shoot them both horizontally and vertically. But mostly shoot them wide and get as much into one scene as possible. You can always crop and resize as you wish later on.

2-Use a polarizing filter to help bring out as much detail as possible.

3- Photograph all types of clouds. Dark angry clouds, happy fluffy clouds, Cirrus and Cumulus are my personal favorites. Photograph them at sunset, sunrise, midday or midnight for that matter! Overcast days, sunny days, just keep shooting whenever you see a dramatic sky formation.

4- Keep your camera ISO setting low. Personally I don’t go over 200 ISO for clouds. You want to keep them clean and noise free.

5- Keep photographing clouds and the sky from every direction in reference to the sun and lighting as well. When you clone in a new sky the lighting on the main subject needs to match the lighting on the sky. After all, you want it to appear believable.

6- I set the lowest aperture f-number possible. A sky or cloud formation is so far away your camera aperture setting becomes virtually unimportant. Just make sure the camera is focusing on the actual sky and not a nearby object.

Another thing to watch for is the different timing on your sunset photos with the clouds. The photo above is a photo taken at “twilight”, which occurs after the sun goes down, and colors that you pick up are the purples and blues creating even a more beautiful sunset. Don’t just take your sunset photo and leave, wait to see if you can get some of the “twilight” colors too. You will be glad you did.

If you have any questions in regards to this subject, contact me at:


Photo by Laurasaman on Unsplash
THE GRAND CANYON! Sometimes even photos don’t do it justice, but, today we are going to try. This magnificent canyon with the amazing colors, is one of the amazing wonders of the world. PHOTOS OF THE WEEK, Presents: THE BEAUTIES OF THE GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK!
Location of the Grand Canyon is in Arizona, US.

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is a natural formation distinguished by layered bands of red rock, revealing millions of years of geological history in cross-section. Vast in scale, the canyon averages 10 miles across and a mile deep along its 277-mile length. Much of the area is a national park, with Colorado River white-water rapids and sweeping vistas.

Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash
Photo by Alex Azabache on Unsplash, Hiking around the Grand canyon in Horseshoe bend during the sunset and Sunrise
Photo by Isadora Neto on Unsplash

The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River is a mile-deep canyon (1.6 km) that bisects the park.

Even though the average distance across the canyon is only 10 miles/ 16 km, it takes 5 hours to drive the 215 miles / 346 km between the park’s South Rim Village and the North Rim Village.

Photo by Jim Witkowski on Unsplash: As the sun came up over the Grand Canyon’s south rim, I saw this small juniper tree growing precariously over the edge. These hearty trees seem to grow in the most unlikely places. I like how the sun highlights the needles against the dark canyon below.
Photo by Tim Jones on Unsplash

What are 5 interesting facts about the Grand Canyon?13 Things You Didn’t Know About Grand Canyon National Park

  • The Grand Canyon is bigger than the state of Rhode Island. …
  • The Grand Canyon itself can influence the weather. …
  • Hidden caves abound in the canyon. …
  • The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. …
  • The Grand Canyon was carved over some 6 million years.
Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash
Photo by Arnaud STECKLE on Unsplash: Hitting the road, miles after miles.
Photo by John Mears on Unsplash

The Grand Canyon itself can influence the weather. The Grand Canyon has an elevation spanning from around 2,000 feet to over 8,000 feet, allowing it to experience a variety of weather conditions. As a result, the temperature generally increases by 5.5 degrees with each 1,000-feet loss in elevation.

An amazing image of a total cloud inversion in 2013. This rare meteorological event fills the canyon with a sea of clouds when the air near the ground is cooler than the air above it. It’s something park rangers wait years to see. Photo by Erin Huggins, National Park Service.
The Redwall Limestone in the Grand Canyon is a water soluble rock, meaning that it can be slowly dissolved by water, eventually resulting in caves of various sizes. Photo by Kristen M. Caldon, National Park Service

Hidden caves abound in the canyon. Tucked within the Grand Canyon are an estimated 1,000 caves, and of those, 335 have been recorded. Even fewer have been mapped or inventoried. Today, only one cave is open to the public — the Cave of the Domes on Horseshoe Mesa.

Visitors take in the stunning views of the Grand Canyon at Mather Point. Photo by National Park Service
The oldest human artifacts found in the Grand Canyon are nearly 12,000 years old and date to the Paleo-Indian period. There has been continuous use and occupation of the park since that time. Photo of granaries above Nankoweap by National Park Service.
Squirrels that are fed by people become dependent on human food, and may lose their natural fear of humans and their ability to forage for natural foods. Photo by Michael Quinn, National Park Service.

The most dangerous animal in the park is the rock squirrel. From bighorn sheep and the California Condors to the Gila monster, the Grand Canyon is home to a large array of wildlife. But it’s the rock squirrel that causes the most trouble. Every year, dozens of visitors are bitten when they try to feed these animals. To stay safe, do not approach or feed any animals found at Grand Canyon (or any park). Learn more about keeping wildlife wild.

Sun rays shine through clouds to light up the North Rim. If you’re looking to explore Grand Canyon National Park with less crowds, the North Rim provides serenity and spectacular views. The North Rim closes to vehicles during the winter and remains open to hikers, snowshoers and cross country skiers. Photo by Yan Li (
A photo from the very first weeks of the opening of the Grand Canyon Skywalk by Chris Loncar

You can get an aerial view of the Grand Canyon without ever leaving the ground. The Skywalk, managed by the Hualapai Tribe and located on tribal lands, consists of a horseshoe shaped steel frame with glass floor and sides that projects about 70 feet from the canyon rim. It is the most famous attraction at Grand Canyon West.

A visitor enjoys sunset at the Grand Canyon. Photo by Robert Shuman

Souvenirs may be bought but not taken. Grand Canyon National Park — a World Heritage Site — belongs to everyone. Rocks, plants, wood and artifacts must be left where you found them so others can enjoy them in the future.

Smoke rises from a fire on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in 2016. Photo by U.S. Forest Service

Controlled fires are good for the canyon’s landscape. Fire has been a part of the Colorado Plateau ecosystem for thousands of years. It naturally thins the forest, recycles nutrients into the soil and stimulates new plant growth. Fire managers at Grand Canyon National Park work to strike a balance between restoring and maintaining natural processes associated with fire, and protecting human life and property.

Bright Angel is Grand Canyon’s premier hiking trail. Its endless switchbacks descend in the canyon, giving hikers epic views that are framed by massive cliffs. Be sure to check the weather and come prepared with water before setting out on the trail. Photo by Michael Quinn, National Park Service.

Hit the trail for some of the best views in the country.  Mule trips, rafting the Colorado River and stargazing — there is so much to do at the Grand Canyon. If you can only do one thing: Take a hike. Whether it’s long or short, all trails come an exceptional view.

President Theodore Roosevelt and other officials pose in front of the Grand Canyon in 1903. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.


Photo by Jenn Wood on Unsplash
Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash

“I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.”

– John McCain