Tips for Skyscape Photography

Posted on: 21st December 2013

An interesting skyscape photo is not far from where you are currently located. Take the shots when the sun rises or when the sun sets. Even cold days and warm days offer different light and colour so you can get a plethora of dramatic images. Having the right composition and a great lighting is everything so here are tips you have to remember for unforgettable skyscape photos.

  1. It all depends on the light.

When dealing with sky photography, the light is the one biggest element that would give you the images you want. Shooting during sunset will give you dramatic photos. But as long as you spot intricate colours of varying intensity – strong blues, oranges and such – set your camera to AV (Aperture-Priority) mode immediately. A greater depth of field is achievable if you use a small f-stop (between f/11-f/32) on a wide angle lens.

  1. Treat sunrises and sunsets differently.

Skyscape PhotographyThe “golden hour” is either the first or final hour of sunlight. Here, strong reds and oranges are prevalent. When you try to get images during these times, use a tripod and wide angle lens. The exposure compensation mode must be set to -1 or -2. If you don’t want to get oversaturated colours, make sure you do not underexpose the scene. A wider depth of field can be achieved if you choose a small aperture. Avoid bright glare by waiting as soon as the sun goes behind trees, clouds or other elements in the surroundings.

  1. Take advantage of dramatic clouds.

Potential storms are promising because it means more drama for your skyscape photos. Wait till you see the sun peeps out of the clouds and then backlight it. It is important to do this so the clouds won’t just appear as a dark bleary mass. Or, you can also schedule to take your shots after a rain storm because that’s when the sun gets out of hiding. Of course, you have to be patient about this if you really want to get awesome pictures of the sky. If it gets windy, a sturdy tripod is your best friend. An f/11-f/32 aperture would give you a deeper depth of field.

  1. Dramatic skies makes for a stunning portrait photo.

You can do this when the day is quite dark. Position your subject in the foreground so that they remain in focus at all times. Illuminate the subject by using a fill-in flash. By calculating the right distance between your subject and the background, you’d get dramatic skies that won’t be affected by the flash.

  1. Create great panoramas.

It usually requires super wide angle lens but no worries if you don’t have one. Thanks to Photoshop, you can just stitch separate photographs together to achieve that lovely panoramic shot. Use a tripod to steady your hands. As long as you can keep the horizon straight, you can now take the shot using a self-timer. You can also opt for a remote release. Slowly move the camera along the horizontal up to the next part of the sky. Don’t forget to leave a slight overlap. It would be best to take at least 3 pictures consecutively. Again, the overlap is essential just in case there are any gaps. You can remedy this when you use Photoshop later on and get the desired effect.

Recommended Settings

Sharp images are achievable by setting the aperture to f/32. It can also be enlarged in the future, if you want to. Moving clouds, water and other background elements make for a dramatic shot. You will need a polarizer to be able to capture it, as well as a ND filter on top of it. Thus, the amount of light that can hit your lens can be minimized. Moreover, the camera will opt for a longer shutter speed, perfect for creating that blurry effect.

Recommended Equipment

If you want dramatic clouds and panoramic views, always choose a wide angle lens. Usually, it is at the earliest part of the morning –when the sun starts to shine – and at the start of the evening – when the last section of the sun drops down at the horizon – that you can achieve great skyscape photos. A tripod is very useful at these moments to prevent any blurring. Most landscape photographers use a remote to capture the images to prevent even the tiniest camera movement. Illuminate objects, people and other background elements in dark spots by using a flashgun.


Skyscape photography is fun and rewarding. It is not that difficult to get great shots because you can do this at any time of the day and at any season. Just make sure you take advantage of the different aspects of light during different hours of the day. This way, you can use the right techniques to manipulate the desired results.

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