My favorite part about Arizona are the spectacular sunsets and golden, dramatic evening light. One of the most popular questions I get from other photographers is "How do you get those sunset shots?!" Once you know a few basic steps, its really quite simple! The following is the easiest way to start shooting with an off camera flash to achieve beautiful sunset shots!
First of all, gather your GEAR:
You'll need a DSLR, a speedlite, and some sort of transmitters/receivers. Some brands to look for are Phottix, Pocketwizard, and Yongnuo. You'll need to do some research to see what triggers will work with your system. I use a Canon 600EX-RT and the Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT. It is by far the most streamlined system I've used. Paired with MagMod accessories and occasionally a Westcott Apollo Orb, I feel like I can creatively accomplish so much!
Let's get to shooting!!
Step ONE: Meter for the sky.
Pretend like you are going to take a photo of just the sunset. Take one shot without the speedlite to see if you're getting the sunset exposed correctly. Your subject should be dark, but the colors in the sky should pop! You will need to keep your shutter speed under either 200 or 160, depending on your camera's maximum sync speed. I like to start at 400 ISO, 160/sec and f/4. Set your WB to Flash.
Step TWO: Set your off camera speedlite to ETTL.
Position your flash (on a stand or held by an assistant) to the left or right of your camera. You'll achieve the most flattering light if the flash head is slightly above your model's head and tilted down towards them.
Step THREE: Fire away.
If you don't like the outcome, ETTL may be exposing too bright or dark for your liking. You can either adjust the exposure compensation or switch over to MANUAL. I like to start at the lowest flash output possible while in manual. If your speelite is on manual, do not change the distance between your model and the speedlite once you have a setting dialed in.
Some creative tips:
*If the shadows on your model are harsh, try pointing the model's nose towards your light.
*The closer the speedlite is to your subject, the softer the light will be.
*To achieve a more dramatic look, try placing the speedlite at a 90 degree angle to your model.
*Try playing with gels on your flash and your WB settings to alter the color of your sunset.
Please feel free to comment below with questions, I will do my best to answer them!