How to create sunset light on a cloudy day | Profoto

How to create sunset light on a cloudy day

07 August, 2023

Written by: Lindsay Adler

Did you know that you can create beautiful golden hour sunset light even on a cloudy day? Here are fashion photographer Lindsay Adler's photography tips on how to achieve that glorious sunset look through a window using only two lights.

Tip 1 - Consider the direction and quality of sunlight 

When aiming to replicate the natural look of sunset, consider the direction from where the sunlight is coming. During Lindsay's photo shoot, the sunlight entered through a window situated behind the model. This resulted in a soft, indirect illumination on the model's face, as the light bounced off the room's walls. To mimic the effect of direct sunlight entering through a door, Lindsay strategically positioned a Profoto D2 as a hard light source over the model's shoulder. Additionally, she introduced a second D2 equipped with a large, diffused umbrella to bounce light onto the wall behind the camera.

Tip 2 - Use a CTO gel

Replicate the warm light of a sunset by using a CTO (color temperature orange) gel. A full CTO gel effectively transforms the color temperature of a daylight-balanced light into a warm tungsten color temperature, suitable for creating the typical golden hour light. During Lindsay's shoot, she added a CTO gel to the D2 positioned behind the model near the door.

Tip 3 - Shoot at a narrower depth of field

Selecting a narrower depth of field, such as F2.8 or wider, serves a dual purpose: it enhances the perception of depth in your image while also simulating the look of natural light.

Tip 4 - Add a black pro mist filter

Often when taking an image during sunset, the highlights glow and seem to radiate warmth. Using a Black Pro Mist filter will help you to accentuate the highlights in the final image. It also creates the look of haze in the scene, giving it a more atmospheric and natural light look. You may need to add contrast and clarity back into your shot during post-processing.

Lindsay's lighting setup 

Environmental fill light: Profoto D2 with a large umbrella with diffusion
Background "sunlight": Profoto D2 with a full CTO gel

Written by: Lindsay Adler

Products used in this story

Umbrella Deep White

A versatile and zoomable umbrella for a softer light

Umbrella Diffuser

Turns your White or Silver Umbrella into a softbox

Air Remote

Syncs and manually controls any Profoto Air light