Improving your photography is a matter of practice. The more time you spend out in the field, the better your photos are going to get.
That said, taking stellar photos of the sunrise and sunset gets a little easier when you have the right tools in your toolkit. Some of the simplest ways to improve your sunlight photography include:
Find Your Hours
"Golden hour" is so beloved by photographers for a reason. Have you heard of "blue hour," though? Both golden hour and blue hour are the best times of day to manage pictures of the sunrise and sunset. While the golden hour is best known for its unbeatable late-day rays, blue hour lets photographers get some of the best sunrise shots of their careers.
Although you may have to adjust your schedule to make the most of these hours, your photography will thank you for your sacrifice.
Embrace a High Dynamic Range
The wonder shots that professional photographers publish in National Geographics aren't a matter of luck. These teams take advantage of the tools their cameras have in their tool belt. If you want the chance to get shots that are magazine-ready, consider using a high dynamic range.
This range lets you take up to three pictures with the click of one button. This way, you have even more opportunities to catch one-of-a-kind views through your lens.
Keep Composition in Mind
Photography is nothing without proper composition. As you're setting up your camera for sunrise and sunset shots, consider what other elements you have in your photo. For example, treelines tend to create a significant amount of bright contrast, guiding the eye from the horizon line up and towards the sun.
If you have too much clutter in your foreground, or if you don't choose your photo's subject appropriately, then your sunrise and sunset photos may seem out of focus or overly busy.
Use Environmental Effects (and Editing) to Your Advantage
Sunset and sunrise photos are in such high demand because of their natural beauty. If you're able to capture some of that on camera, you'll have a better chance of attracting a broader audience. One of the simplest ways to use the sun to your advantage is to seek out sunbeams.
Sunbeams making their way through trees, blinds, or other natural obstacles draw a viewer's eye up towards the sun. These effects, in other words, lend to the composition of your scene without requiring you to take any necessary steps.
That said, you can always use editing software to your advantage. After you've taken a collection of photos, you can color-balance, blend, or even apply filters to your work. This artistry doesn't discredit your photography skills. Instead, it only accentuates the shot you wanted to get.
Sunrise and sunset photos are naturally beautiful, but there are ways you can make each of your shots better. Embrace editing, natural effects, composition, and the quirks of your camera, and you'll notice a sharp uptick in the quality of your photos.