One of the questions I get asked the most—next to “what is it you do exactly?”—is “how do I get a good sunset picture?” Luckily, I have a few tips for catching a good sunset, and most of them are pretty easy! Here are a few things to keep in mind:
The Sun Sets in the West
Okay, so this one seems obvious, but there have been times when I have completely envisioned watching the sunset over a lake only to realize the lake/beach in question does not at all face west. Moreover, the sun sets more to the North or more to the South depending on the time of year, so be sure to keep in mind exactly where the sun is setting.
Sun Set Time
Sunset time is usually available online, but keep in mind that the 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after can also have some pretty dramatic clouds.
Watch the Weather
Speaking of clouds, partly cloudy days tend to yield the coolest sunsets—storms can also lead to a pretty dramatic show, but can be a little more unpredictable. In general, clear cloudless days won’t lead to a crazy sky, and on completely cloudy days you might not catch the sunset at all.
Clearings and Elevation
If you can get up high or somewhere clear, you get less of the sky blocked by trees and more foreground. This is good especially for photography, because a strong foreground makes an image a lot more interesting.
Reflections of sunsets are often almost as good as the sunsets themselves, and lakes, rivers and ponds are the ideal spots for this. Different water holds light differently, so there is something new to appreciate every time.
So where do I like to catch a sunset from?
Overlook No. 9
The best spot to watch the sunset isn't the last dune over the lake- it's the ridge behind that last one, where you can watch other people below, walking on that last dune. One night up here we saw a dad and daughter taking pictures on a self timer- running out to the dune to jump at the count of ten, or pose. This photo is from a different night, but the same spot✨
In the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Overlook No. 9 puts you 450 feet above Lake Michigan looking out to the West.
It’s drizzling outside— it’s cold and gray, and I sort of can’t even remember what it felt like to jump into cold water on a hot day. Mostly I can though. Your clothes stick to you a little as you peel them off, somehow you always end up with grass between your toes. Somehow the water always shocks you— if you wade in then it shocks you slowly, and you’re cringing and complaining. If you jump it shocks you all at once, like a punch. Can you tell I like the water?
Torch Lake’s waters range from glassy Caribbean blue to stormy, but either way the small town of Alden is a beautiful place to take a dip and watch the sunset from the marina.
From a Kayak
There’s nothing like a sunset from the water, particularly when there’s no one but otter and eagles for miles around. This sunset picture was taken at the Big Island Lakes Wilderness Area in the Upper Peninsula, but watching the sunset from a boat anywhere can be phenomenal.
Hidden in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, this area off the North Country Trail has some of the best swimming in Michigan as well as the best sunsets if you are willing to brave the Lake Superior cold.
The Side of the Road Somewhere
The best sunsets I have ever seen I’ve caught pulled over on the side of the road or driving somewhere—like this sunset off the side of a road near Grayling, MI.
What great sunset spots did I miss? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know or reach out to me through Instagram!