The awe-inspiring colors of the setting sun over a city skyline, a beach or even just a thicket of suburban rooftops fill us with the urge to capture their fleeting beauty. So why is it so hard to duplicate the majesty of these experiences with our iPhones?

“Cameras are stupid,” says professional photographer Julia Hoggson Vandenoever ’96. “They’re machines. Good pictures are the result of the person behind the camera.” Here are her tips for taking perfect sunset photos on your phone.

TURN OFF YOUR FLASH. Your tiny flash is no match for the sun.

USE THE EXPOSURE LOCK. Instead of simply pointing and shooting, hold your finger on a neutral area—not too bright or dark—and wait until you see the box that shows you that you’ve locked the exposure. That will prevent the sky from being blown out and the water or land from being too dark.

BRACE YOURSELF. “In low-light conditions, you’re going to notice camera shake,” Vandenoever says. “Lean against something to steady yourself, then hold your breath. Press and hold the shutter button and let it take 10 or 15 frames. The middle ones will probably be the best.”

EDIT WISELY. “Pictures straight from the camera rarely look great,” she says. “It’s post-processing work like cropping or brightening, with the help of apps like Snapseed, that really make a big difference.”


SAQ, Fall 2016