How I Did It (Revisited)

Sunset by Michael Stebel

Here’s how I shot this award-winning image of an incredible sunset

Sunset by Michael Stebel


The sunsets at Naples, Florida are incredible. This one was one of the best I’d ever experienced with its full spectrum of colors and incredible clouds. So, I went down to the beach and set up my camera to capture the entire evolution of this sunset. This was perhaps the best of the over 200 images I shot that evening.


I used my Canon EOS 5D Mark III full-frame camera, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM ultra-wide lens, Speedlite 600EX-RT, circular polarizer, Manfrotto tripod and ball mount, remote switch. Since I was shooting on sand, I also installed All Weather Tripod Shoes. This prevented the tripod’s feet from sinking into the sand. I recommend these when shooting on any soft surface, such as snow, sand, and mud.


I used the natural light of the sunset along with an off-camera flash to illuminate the white sand in the foreground.


For the shoot, I took three exposures at ISO 100, using manual exposure mode with aperture at f/16 and varying the shutter setting to capture the image at -1 ⅔ ev, 0 ev, and +1 ⅔ ev. This translated to exposures times of 0.03 sec, 0.1 sec, and 0.3 secs, respectively. Later, I created a tone-mapped image from the bracketed set using Photomatix Pro. Then, a bit of sharpening and mid-tone contrast tweaking in Lightroom to bring out the clouds. See my post on HDR photography.

Suggestions for Shooting Sunsets

In addition to my post on shooting sunsets, you should also always use a tripod! Take a lot of exposures and bracket them—even if you don’t intend to do any HDR processing—as you never know until later which one(s) will be the best.

Get this Image!

Get a print gallery wrap canvas on my website. Or, get a hi-res download along with 150 of my favorite images with my app for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.


What’s in My Camera Bag

  • Canon EOS 5D III
  • EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
  • EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM
  • EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
  • ND filter set
  • Circular polarizer
  • Warmtone polarizer
  • Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT
  • Manfrotto tripod with ball mount
  • Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver
  • I may also bring along an 8-15mm fisheye, 100mm macro, and/or Sigma 200-400mm lens.