Seven Tips for Capturing a Perfect Pure Michigan Sunset

We consider ourselves quite lucky to have the opportunity experience breathtaking, colorful sunsets all year round in Pure Michigan! Today, nature photographer Joshua Nowicki shares some of his best tips for capturing the memory of a perfect Pure Michigan sunset forever. 

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography - St. Joseph

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography – St. Joseph

I am out almost every night taking photos of the sunset.  Recently, I decided to look back on my photos from the last several years and I could see a noticeable change in the style and quality of the images that I have created.  This led me to think about the way I now approach sunset photography.  As a result, here are a few tips on creating beautiful photos of the sunsets in Pure Michigan.

Research your location: Do an image-search to get an idea of the popular features of a particular location.  Also, find out where the sun will set; there are a variety of apps and websites that will allow you to determine the position of the sun on the date and time that you will be in a particular location.  Knowing the position of the sun relative to the features of the landscape will allow you to better plan the composition of your photos.  For instance, there are several locations in Saint Joseph where I know that I can take a photo of the sun and the lighthouse at a distance, but this is only possible on a limited number of days during the year due to the changing position of the setting sun.

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography - Ludington State Park

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography – Ludington State Park

Get to your location early and observe others: When I arrive at a location, I first look at where other people are.  Sometimes it is a great spot, but often I move away from the group.  I do this because then I am not competing with others for space to take photos.  Also, I like to find a less common perspective, and I enjoy taking photos from a quiet spot in order to better enjoy the moment.

Look around: Because I arrive early, I usually have time before the sun is in the location that I want to photograph.  I use part of this time to enjoy taking photos during the ‘golden hour’ when the landscape is bathed in the soft warm light of the sun.  Further, this is a good opportunity to look for any objects that may unintentionally end up in your photos; power lines, cars, buoys etc. if not placed purposefully in the composition of your photo can be very distracting.

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography - St. Joseph

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography – St. Joseph

Try a different perspective: I like to crouch down low or even lay on the ground to take photos.  It makes waves look larger and lets you uniquely catch the light on the water or through grass.  It is a wonderful way to capture details that are often overlooked.

Be patient: Wait for the position of the sun, sailboat, lighthouse etc. to align as planned.  When I started taking photos, I often ran from place to place trying to get as many different angles as possible without thinking about exactly what I wanted to capture.  Now, I will choose a place and wait patiently; if necessary, I move location only slightly to get the photo composed as planned.  As a result, I take fewer photos, but I am happier with the ones that I take.

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography - After sunset in St. Joseph

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography – After sunset in St. Joseph

Stay late: It is amazing how quickly people leave after the sun sets. The color of the sky, especially if there are clouds, is amazing after sunset.

More than just the sunset: Photos of the sunset and water or clouds can be beautiful, but adding in an element that tells a story about the location is wonderful. Trees, lighthouses, animals, and buildings etc. add to the story that the photo tells and offer valuable data about the experience of being there.  A photo of the beach could be almost anywhere; but with a lighthouse in the background, the photo is instantly given a definable location.

With amazing sunsets almost every night, there are endless opportunities to take beautiful sunset photos in Pure Michigan.

For more photos of Pure Michigan sunsets, check out our Pure Michigan Flickr page or follow us on Instagram.

Joshua_NowickiJoshua Nowicki is a St. Joseph, Michigan based photographer specializing in landscape, nature, architecture, and food photography.   His photos can be viewed online on Facebook or his website.

Fifteen Photos That Will Get You Dreaming of a Perfect Pure Michigan Beach Day

Our 10-Day Pure Michigan Instagram #BeachChallenge has come to a close. We had a blast admiring all of your wonderful submissions  - nearly 2,000 of them! Since there were so many photos that truly captured the beauty and unique character of Michigan’s beaches, we put together this roundup of our daily challenge winners and a few other honorable mentions.

See the full gallery of submissions at michigan.org/beachchallenge. 

Congratulations to our grand prize winner, Gina Ferwerda! We love this spectacular shot captured at Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Read about Gina’s winning entry here.ginaferwerda Silver Lake Sand Dunes

A crowd gathers on the pier at Grand Haven State Park Beach to enjoy a colorful sunset in Pure Michigan. Photo by Day 1 challenge winner Bob Peskorse Jr.Bob Peskorse Jr Grand Haven

This pup is all tired out after a long day of playing on Empire Beach! Photo by Day 2 Beach Challenge winner Sarah Hunt.oni_one_ empire beach

A picture perfect day at Orchard Beach State Park near Manistee, MI. Photo by Day 3 challenge winner Deb Nerkeen.tototoophoto Orchard Beach State Park

Clear skies and sandy shores near Manistique make for some great kite-flying conditions. Photo by Day 4 challenge winner Carrie Shea.Carrie Shea Thompson MI west of Manistique

What a cool view captured during a paddle trip at Stoney Creek Metropark! Photo by Day 5 challenge winner Rainie Mills.RainieMills Stoney Creek Metropark

A blazing sunrise and some early morning fishing start the day in Copper Harbor. Photo by Day 6 challenge winner Matthew Winn.splashofsunset Copper Harbor

Pristine sparkling waters roll into shore along Lake Huron in Rogers City, MI. Photo by Day 7 challenge winner Rachel Welch.rachel_welch93 Rogers City

Sand and surf as far as the eye can see at Sleeping Bear Dunes. Phot by Day 8 challenge winner Steve Keighly.Steve Keighley Sleeping Bear Dunes

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a perfect Pure Michigan sunset after a day at the beach with family and friends! Photo by Day 9 challenge winner Jason McIver at Tiscornia Beach in St. Joseph.Jason McIver Photography Tiscornia Beach St. Joseph

Colorful, crackling fireworks explode over the glowing Mighty Mac near St. Ignace. Photo by Day 10 challenge winner Shawn Kellogg.Shawnkkellogg St.Ignace

Smooth aquamarine waters are wonderful for watersports at Weko Beach near Bridgman. Photo by Melissa Cieniuch (Honorable Mention).misscieniuchscience Weko Beach Bridgman, MI

A tranquil scene along 5th Street Beach in Manistee. Photo by Instagram user @michigram55 (Honorable Mention).michigram55 5th Street Beach Manistee

The sandy shores of Lake Michigan are just right for building a sand castle. Photo by Robert Jacobs (Honorable Mention).Sunset on Grand Traverse Bay - Grand Haven

A picture perfect day at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Photo by  Kaci Babineau (Honorable Mention).kacibabs pictured rocks

How do you like to spend a day at the beach in Pure Michigan? 

Pure Michigan Facebook Fan Photos June 2014

Summer is officially here in Pure Michigan! Our fans have been out and about enjoying the warmer weather with boat rides, kayak trips, winery tours, golf outings and more! Here’s a look back at some of our favorite photos from June. For more fan photos, be sure to check out our Pure Michigan Flickr page, or follow us @PureMichigan on Instagram.

The Mighty Mackinac Bridge with calm waters below. Photo by Facebook fan Gary Ennis.

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A great shot of the Northern Lights in Michigan. Photo from Facebook fan Jeremy Rows.

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A magical sun setting over Houghton Lake, MI. Photo by Facebook fan Loose Canon Photography.

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A vibrant purple flower blooms in Holland, MI. Photo by Facebook fan Jessica Jackson.

HollandMichiganFlower_JessicaJackson

A peaceful sunset behind the grapevines in Caseville, MI. Photo by Facebook fan Jason McIver Photography.

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All the shades of blue make us want to go kayak on Madron Lake. Photo by Facebook fan Deb Whitfield.

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We would love to sit back and enjoy this view in Northport, MI. Photo by Facebook fan Bradi Metcalf.

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This dock in Burt Lake, MI looks like the perfect place to sit back, go fishing, and relax. Photo by Facebook fan Constance Durst Dobson.

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A beautiful shot of the perfect day at the Bear Golf Course in Acme, MI. Photo by Facebook fan Little Ways Photography.

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We love looking at all of beautiful rocks and shells that wash up on shore in Traverse City, MI. Photo by Facebook fan Morgan Kantola.

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Which photo from June 2014 is your favorite? Be sure to share your favorite summer photos with us on Facebook and Instagram!