Shooting sunsets with filters

I posted some sunset photos on my Facebook and Instagram and got some questions to explain a bit more how to shoot sunsets with basic filters. So here we go !

This was a dull sunset but thanks to the GND and ND filters it looks amazing!


It is important to have an idea of what you want to shoot. Do you want a colorful landscape or a stunning sunset sky ? Or something else ? Then you have to look for a proper location. See if the landscape lines line up in the image that you have in mind. Check your equipment. GND and ND filters, CPL, remote, tripod, batteries, etc. Make sure everything is clean. 

After the sunset. Stunning light in the golden hour 
Shot with a Vari-ND filter and white balance shift 

Setting up

Once at location set up your gear. usually I come to location about 1,5 hour before sunset. Then look at the  light. At my place the sun sets round 6pm. Around 5.30pm the light starts to be nice. Yellowish light. Time to set up the tripod, camera and filters. Usually I start with a CPL filter. The sky is still blue and the yellow light shining on the trees give that nice effect. Try to get a palm tree in the composition. Speaking about composition: have something in the foreground it gives depth to the shot.

Shifting focus and white balance using GND and ND filters

Now the settings: I shoot landscapes,sunsets,etc. always in A mode. My aperture is f10 – f18. Don’t worry about diffraction most people include photographers dont know what it is or how to see it. ISO set to base, in my case with Fuji that is iso200. Then the EV. Depending on the clouds and light I start with -1 to -2 EV. I like darker clouds and it gives more drama to the sky.  

Start of a nice sunset.

Start shooting. Now here it gets tricky 🙂 it all depends on what you have in mind. This determines when to ditch the CPL and use the GND and ND filters. I switch to these filters the moment the sun is about to set at the horizon. If you have clouds in the sky, this is the moment where colorful skies tend to start. This color spectacle will continue after the sun has set and the light will be even more better. To bad it only lasts for about  1 hour in total. 

Depending on your idea or what you have in mind, this is the time to play with your filters or leave them out completely.

White balance shift

I like to play with filters. But they give a color cast too. Depending on the colors in the clouds I shift the white balance to get the desired effect. See photos below.

White balance shift

Author: Admin

Hi... I am Ryan Nigel Scheemaker and I am a travel and landscape photographer.