January 25, 2009

Better Sunset Pictures

Sunset with automatic white balance

If you've been disappointed with the sunset and sunrise photos your digital camera has made, you're not alone. Many people feel their sunsets don't turn out as colorful as they remember from seeing them or even compared to their film images. You're not imagining it! Here's why.

All digital cameras have a color correction feature called White Balance. It's designed to correct the color casts you often see in indoor pictures, such as the orange cast of photos in your living room at night or the green cast in pictures of an office. Unfortunately, your camera can't tell the difference between the orange you don't want in your indoor photos and the orange you do want in your sunset pictures.

If you change the camera's White Balance setting from automatic (usually shown as AWB for "Automatic White Balance") to sunny or daylight (usually shown as an icon of the sun), the camera will record all the color of your sunrise or sunset as you saw it. (You may need to change your camera to Program mode to accomplish this.) No more dull skies for you!

Sunset with daylight white balance