Here’s the situation: sometimes you want the look sunset can give, but it isn’t always available. Well, there’s a way to easily achieve it. To start, you’re not going to be using constant lights or LEDs if you want to do this easily and affordably. Instead, you’ll use a studio strobe or a flash. Believe it or not, this whole setup is a lot easier than you’d think. Let’s dive into it.
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What You Need
- Your camera
- Your lens
- A powerful light with a radio transmitter
- A light stand
- An orange gel
- A window, possibly a bit dirty
Personally, I’d also recommend using haze filters because I hate doing any sort of retouching later on. We’re working so hard to get this look in-camera, so why even bother working on it later if we can get perfection right from the start?
How to Create the Sunset Look
Start off by attaching a gel to your light source. Don’t put your strobe or flash inside a softbox or any other light modifier. Leave it bare. The light diffuser will be your window. Put the strobe on a light stand and bring it outside. It helps if you’re on the ground level, but there are a few other ways to do this. No matter what, be safe. Adjust the light stand so that your strobe is pretty high up. Point the strobe down towards the light at a 30 or 45 degree angle. Then head inside and use the radio trigger to make sure everything is working.
Next, put the transmitter on your camera and start taking photos. The idea here is that the light is gelled orange. This already makes the light output mimic the sunset look. Then the light is coming from a relatively small light source and is diffused by the window. The window will spread the light out to make it look more natural. This will help more if you’ve got curtains or blinds. The other key is to make sure you can’t see the light stand or the light source itself. So position your subject by the window and photograph them that way. The window will create harsh shadows that will look like the sunset coming in from an angle.
We shot these photos using the Fujifilm X Pro 3 and the 23mm f1.4 R WR Lens. We used Classic Chrome in-camera, but ended up switching it Astia in Capture One Pro. The edits done were shadow adjustments. To get more of the sunset look, set the white balance to daylight. Otherwise, manually set it to 5200K or 5500K. Indoors, this will make a lot of light look much warmer. And to add even more to these photos, try to have warm-colored lights on inside, but don’t let them overwhelm the light coming in from the outside.
The sunset look is pretty easy to do. If you bring the light back inside, you can tweak it by pointing it at a blank wall to create a warm glow. The trick here is that the entire wall becomes the light diffuser. And because the wall is so large, the light looks super soft.