Welcome to our new series, Minute Photography, where we explain photography and lighting tips & tricks, myths, and techniques.

In this episode, we show you how to achieve a perfectly lit sunset portrait while throwing the temperature into a cool blue.


Step 1: Dial in Camera Settings


Set your shutter speed to 1/200th of a second and dial in the proper aperture and ISO setting that retains the detail and dynamic range of your sunset portrait. In our scene we arrived at an ambient exposure of 1/200th of a second, f/5.6, and ISO 100, and you can see from the image above, that our subject is extremely underexposed but our background has the perfect balance of brightness.

Step 2: Set your In-Camera White Balance


Throw your temperature into a deep blue by setting your in-camera temperature setting to 3600K. This is just a starting point so gauge whether or not your sunset’s color can handle more or less of a temperature adjustment. Now, with this adjustment we need to make sure that the off-camera flash color helps us retain our subject’s natural skin color and therefore we use a CTO (Color Temperature Orange) gel to balance between the ambient light and in-camera temperature throw.

Step 3: Add In Your Light


Now that you have the appropriate settings add in your hot-shoe flash to illuminate your subject. We don’t want to use direct flash in a scenario like this because it will cause extreme highlights on our subject’s face, so what do we do to create a hard, specular light that still has a diffused quality?

Step 4: Use a Reflector To Bounce Light


There is only one option to get the aforementioned quality of light: bounce. Bring out your reflector (we love using the Westcott 5-in-1) and bounce your on-camera flash onto the silver side of the reflector to create a specular light source while still softening the light so that it doesn’t create harsh highlights.

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