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Photos reminiscent of evenings – Conveying the evening through lights and shadows

Mention the word "evening" and images of long, lingering shadows cast by an orange sunset at the end of summer come to mind. With the right choice of subjects and good use of light, you too can capture dramatic evening shots. (Reported by: Kazuo Nakahara)

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How to shoot a golden sunset

The hot temperatures of summer usually mean that the sky often becomes too misty for you to chance upon a golden sunset. Even so, you can still achieve accentuated shots of a golden sunset by adjusting your camera settings such as by artificially creating an orange filter when shooting.

This photo was shot with Aperture-Priority AE at ISO 100, f/8 and with the White Balance (WB) set to “Shade”. The colour orange is important in creating the dramatic image of a sunset. This orange colour was created by setting the WB to “Shade.” Even though the scene in the photo below does not appear orange in reality, its impression is changed by adjusting the WB settings. Furthermore, the strong backlight would normally require positive compensation. However, emphasis was placed on the stretch of high-rise buildings instead, by setting the exposure to -0.3EV to highlight their silhouettes. To highlight the silhouette, change the Picture Style to “Landscape”, a mode which has a high colour saturation, and increase the contrast. With this, you can capture accentuated shots of a golden sunset in an urban landscape shrouded in mist. This technique is especially useful for scenery by the water.

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 24㎜/ Aperture priority AE (1/800sec.,f/8, −0.3EV)/ ISO 100/ WB: Shade

Shot of a golden sunset in the city. A group of structural buildings arranged in a row with a landmark tower in the centre is represented in a deliberate silhouette.


Select “Landscape” for the Picture Style to make the orange more vivid

Select “Landscape” for the Picture Style. The colour separation will become more distinct and the orange will appear more vivid. Increase the contrast in the Detail Setting to create a more accentuated picture.

With Standard and Daylight, the impression of the sunset is weak

Standard, Daylight

If you set the Picture Style to “Standard” and the WB to “Daylight”, you will find that the impression differs significantly. With these, the picture will greatly differ from the image of an evening scene.

Without exposure compensation, the sunset does not stand out

No exposure compensation

Without exposure compensation, the details of the buildings become visible, there is no life in the picture and the orange colour of the sunset does not stand out.

Conveying the approaching darkness

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 55mm/ Aperture-Priority AE (1/1,000sec.,f/8, −0.7EV)/ ISO 250/ WB: Shade

A slightly higher contrast was used while searching for a position in which the shadows extending from the bridge pillars appeared radially in order to accentuate them.


Check your position relative to the subject to ensure that your own shadow does not get captured

When shooting a subject with a long shadow, take care of your shooting angle so that your own shadow is not captured. Check the relative positions of the sun, subject and the shooting point.

To depict denser shadows, increase the contrast

If the shadow becomes lighter than expected, increase the contrast in the Picture Style Detail Setting.

Aim at the reflection of an oblique light source

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL:23mm/Aperture priority AE (1/200sec., f/22, −2EV)/ ISO 160/ WB: Shade

A mysterious world view in which the top and bottom appear symmetrical was captured by getting as close to the water surface as possible. A clear day is ideal for capturing light rays.

Expressing the glare of a setting sun

An evening with a low setting sun allows the reflected glare of the light to be captured easily on the water surface and the glass surfaces of buildings. For example, light rays are created with the glare reflected from the water’s surface to impart a glittering impression of the evening light. When shooting, keep the camera close to the ground and stop down the aperture to f/22 to shoot from the edge of the water surface.


Shoot the reflected glare of the glow from just above the water’s surface

The reflected light from the setting sun may not be seen clearly if you do not shoot near the water’s surface. In addition, remember to shoot in Live View to protect your eyes.

To replicate the light rays of a nightscape, stop down the aperture to f/22



In order to create light rays with the reflected light, stop down the aperture to f/22 because light rays will not appear with an aperture of f/4. As the sharpness of the reflected light depends on the shooting angle, make fine adjustments to the angle to find the most brilliant point from which to shoot.

Kazuo Nakahara

Born in Hokkaido in 1982, Nakahara turned to photography after working at a chemical manufacturing company. He majored in photography at the Vantan Design Institute and is a lecturer for photography workshops and seminars, in addition to working in commercial photography. He is also a representative of the photography information website studio9.