Sunset Seascape Photography

Regardless of how carefully you prepare, when it comes to landscape photography, things don’t always go according to plan.

In this landscape photography class, Karl shows you the apps and websites he uses for planning and research and why it can be valuable to take the time to recce potential locations beforehand.

When it comes time to shoot, Karl is faced with strong winds and clear skies – not exactly ideal conditions for landscape photography. However, using a combination of filters, he’s able to make the most of the situation and captures a stunning image nonetheless.

Here you’ll learn about some of the most useful equipment for landscape photography, Karl’s lens choice, how he uses different filters to control the available light and how you can capture a great shot even when the conditions aren’t at their best.

In this class:

  • Landscape photography: How to photograph a sunset seascape
  • Useful apps for landscape photographers
  • Useful equipment for landscape photography
  • Lenses for landscape photography
  • Using filters for landscape photography
  • Identifying strong compositional elements for landscape photography

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hi Karl, I think in some of the other videos you’ve referenced a glass ND filter. I know the big and little stoppers are made of resin, right? Have you found a difference in how the Lee resin filters handle sea spray compared with the glass ones? I’ve been doing lots of research trying to decide which brand of filters I want to invest in. The other brand I’m considering is Benro but I liked the Lee system because my current array of Canon RF budget glass has some smaller thread sizes and it doesn’t seem like the Benro system would work without using step up/down rings.

    1. Hi, the big and little stoppers are made of glass, as are the Pro and IR ND Filters. The grads are made of resin because they are unable to add the graduation to glass as easily. The resin ND grads handle seaspray and are surprisingly hard wearing I just wash them with water on location and dry them and I usually have a few spares to swap them out. I can highly recommend the LEE 100 system.

  2. This was fantastic. I’m struggling slightly with how you determine the aperture? is it determined by the distance of the shot or the amount of light needed to take the shot? I hope that makes sense! Thanks, Paul

  3. Hi Karl,
    I am thoroughly enjoying every listen and keeping notes. Pardon my ignorance but are you metering your exposure pre filter or post filter use? Love the landscapes you have been doing BTW

    1. Hi, thankyou. Actually neither I very rarely meter as the light is always changing and obviously getting gradually darker on a sunset shoot. I’ll often have the depth of field already in mind so that’s my aperture setting already decided mentally, then I can just adjust my shutter speed until the exposure looks correct and generally that shutter speed would be too short for the effect I want so I then choose my ND filter based on what i’m seeing. For example if I need the shutter speed to go from 1/8th to 2 seconds then that’s 4 stops of light I need to cut out to get there so therefore I need 4 stops of ND filter. Try not to get absorbed in thinking the light meter is some type of all knowing entity that makes everything correct, it’s not, far from it, it’s just a computer that guesses what should be the correct average exposure using middle of the road settings. Forget about it other than using it to get you in the ball park, you’re far better making all the creative decisions yourself in manual mode and once you learn the fstop scale it’s straightforward. Check out my new Intro course in the essentials section for a refresh. Cheers Karl.

  4. Really superb! Good planning and research really helps a lot to have an amazing picture. I had one question, I am planning to buy this lens Canon 16-35mm, however, I am very confused to buy f/2.8 Wide or f/4 Wide. I understand the aperture difference in your intro guide. There is a big price difference between the two. Which one should I invest in for Canon 16-35mm? Thank you!

  5. Hi Karl,

    Love the video and love the tones and composition of the final image which was clearly taken in tough conditions.
    Two questions;
    1. Would you consider bracketing and stacking in PS to improve the shadows?
    2. I realise that rain and spray spots are inevitable, is there a practical post production fix?

    1. Hi M.Conroy,
      1. no not really given that I’m using ND grad filters I’m confident that I capturing all of the tones I need within the exposure. Bracketing would only cause me more complexity.
      2. Spare filters on hand is really the best way to overcome this otherwise it’s photoshop and some careful retouching work!

  6. Karl,

    The equipment list shows a Little Stopper ND Filter, but in this video you mention that you ended up using a 3 stop ND filter. I plan on getting the two Lee Grad Filters on this list, but If I am getting started with Seascapes and using filters for sunsets, etc., which one first Lee ND filter, other than the Grad Filters, would you recommend, the Little Stopper or a Lee 3 Stop Filter?

    1. Hi David, the 3 stop ND (0.9). That and a 0.9 Grad is my usual go to set but I also sometimes employ the 1.2 Grad as well. Cheers Karl.

    1. Hi David, always the low camera default if I can as that will give the best image reproduction so on the Canon that would have been 100 ISO

  7. Hi Karl,

    I’ve tried making a similar sunset/late evening photo using Cokin filters looking across a loch up here in Scotland, and although I didn’t have sea spray to contend with I had lens flare instead! There doesn’t seem to be any in your photo even though it appears that you were shooting straight into the sun.

    Is there a clever way of avoiding lens flare when shooting straight into the sun when it’s low on the horizon?

    1. Hi Graham, when shooting directly into the sun this can be very difficult to control and when flare appears or doesn’t can often be down to the characteristics of the glass and internal elements of the lens, so one lens may flare more easily than another. There is also the angle of incidence of the light to the lens. I often use my hand to shade my lens if the sun is slightly off to one side but filters can often add unwanted flare if you’re not careful. On the Lee system I use they make a concertina style lens hood that fits at the end of their filter holder.

  8. Something to work with… are you kidding me 😉
    Especially the picture you picked up above is just lovely.
    As you can see I’m still working through first stages of your program, but I’m learning soooo much

  9. ksporry

    Nice tutorial, good to hear about preparations too!
    I do have a question on ND grads though. It looked like you were using soft grads in that video. Is there a particular reason why you specifically chose soft grads? I was always under the impression that when the horizon is fairly straight, a hard grad would be fine, and that a soft grad is especially well suited when the horizon isn’t very smooth (eg lots of buildings, trees or mountains).
    In the past I struggled seeing the gradations using soft grads.

    1. Hi Kryn, yes you are right but you may have noticed the slight rising headlands, left and right of this shot, but a hard grad would have probably still coped. One thing to consider is the DOF and small apertures. If using a grad then its graduation will become more pronounced as DOF increases, in the same way dust specks do to. Often a soft grad can be useful in seascapes as you commonly have light bouncing off the surface of the sea too and it allows you to reduce this without imposing too much on irregularly shaped rock formations in the foreground.

  10. Hi Karl
    This video was just what I needed as I’m off to Tasmania on Tuesday 21st November for some landscape, seascape and waterfall photography. I’ve never used a 10 stop ND before and have just bought a Hadia Nano Pro filter system.

    Dave Creasy (Australia)

  11. ksporry

    You can see the wind blowing wildly in the reflection of the window in front of you Karl ? that looks like quite a breeze!

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