iPhone Trick: How to Take the Perfect People Sunset Photos

Sunset photos: we all want the perfect shot in front of the perfect sunset, right? And unfortunately, we’ve all been disappointed by not being able to capture the beauty of the sunset when we try to get in the foreground of the photo, right?

Too light, too dark, over and underexposed, and meanwhile there goes your perfect sunset. It might look beautiful behind you, but you might just barely be able to tell who the dark silhouettes are.

I’m about to tell you something you may not know your iPhone can do. I’ve never seen it on a “15 Things You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do” list. I simply know just enough about photography to have thought, “this MUST be possible!” and tried something, and voilá, it actually worked. Allow me to elaborate.

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Basics of Locking Exposure

Remember, I said I know “just enough about photography” to explain this to you. I’m not going to get too technical, and please don’t ask me any hard questions 😉

On my Canon DSLR, I can lock the exposure when I take a photo. This means that I can avoid over or under exposure simply by telling the camera which colors to adjust for. For example, if I’m outside in the wintertime and there is snow everywhere, chances are my camera will try to overcompensate for all the white, and my photo will end up too dark. Or if I’m taking a photo of something black, my camera may overcompensate for the dark and it’ll end up too bright. To avoid this, you can lock the exposure on something of a neutral/medium color. This does NOT lock the focus, just the exposure, and then you have a number of seconds to focus and take the photo before the lock disappears. On my Canon, it’s a matter of pressing a button that looks like this * and then in my viewfinder, I will see “AE lock” until it goes away. So I try to choose a neutral color, the wood of a tree trunk, the bricks of a building, the dirt, or the something else with a neutral color (I go for medium browns). That way my camera won’t try to overdo it in one way or the other (still have to be smarter than the camera). This is the advantage of locking your exposure. Photographers, how did I do? Okay I hope, it’s the one thing I remember from a recent photography workshop.

Related: A Complete Guide to Using Your iPhone Abroad, For Dummies

Locking Exposure on iPhone

Now, little does anyone know (because I have yet to meet anyone who knows this exists, maybe I dreamed it into reality?) your iPhone is capable of locking the exposure! Truly amazing, I know, but just wait until you see what it will do to your sunset photos. See what happens when you try to take a normal photo of someone against a sunset:

Sunset photo without exposure lock

Sunset Photo Too Dark

Look familiar? Now, choose something neutral/medium-colored like the sand or dirt on the ground, bricks, wood, etc., and hold your finger on it. Yes, right on the touch screen, touch the thing/color you want your exposure to lock on, and hold it for a couple of seconds. Your focus box might flash a little and your screen may brighten up and you’ll see “AE/AF lock” at the top. Now, point the camera back to the person in your frame to focus (you can tap on them with your finger to focus on that spot), and then click! What you will see will be perfection. And don’t worry if your screen appears way too bright when you are taking the photo, you will see that it doesn’t turn out that way, it turns out with great, even coloring, and everything is exposed nicely!

PS – Is your HDR turned on? At the top of your camera screen where it says “HDR off” tap that to turn it on, it offers an extra boost in getting the right exposure!

Sunset photo with exposure lock on sand

Sunset Just Right

BOOM. Happy sunset photo taking! Let me know how it goes!

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