This is a quick tip to create a warmer sunset look to your photos, using cool flash!

While the UK is enjoying a mini heatwave, sunsets are plentiful, but they only have that nice warm light at the end of the day. If your shoot is not at the end of the day and you want the warm tones you’ll need to cheat a little. Here’s an example of the cheat in action. Taken with an EF 24mm f/1.4L USM lens and the EOS 5D Mark IV.


To make the available light look warmer, you’ll need to adjust the white balance of your shot, either in post – if you shoot RAW – or on the camera if you shoot JPEG. The shots in the post were all shot with the white balance set to Kelvin and about 7000K. I then used the white balance shift on the camera to add more amber and magenta to the shot, this lets me and the model see the results on the camera screen.

sunset no flashThe shot on the left was taken with no flash to give you an idea of the effect of the flash. White balance and other settings were the same as the ones with flash. The model is clearly underexposed and it’s just not as nice. You might use a reflector, but I’ve not seen any pale blue reflectors.


I was experimenting with my position and the angle to the sun to see if I would get some interesting flare, but the sun and trees just didn’t want to help me at the time I shot these.


Blue flash = warm sunset backlight

With the sun behind my model, making a nice rim light and her positioned in the shade under a tree. I rigged up my favourite “gorgeous light” the Lastolite by Manfrotto Ezybox Pro Octa Medium. I removed the inner diffuser, and replaced it with a large sheet of blue coloured filter gel. The filter gel I used was a 1/4 CTB from Lee Filters. In the past I used the filter mired shift calculator you can find on the Lee Filters website to see what white balance I would need, and form memory I recalled it to be around 7,000K.

If you don’t have the large filter sheet, you can gel the flashes in the softbox individually. I actually used four Speedlite 600EX-RT flashes in my softbox, but it would work fine with two in all reality.

Don’t forget to see why I use multiple Speedlites in bight light

Since I was using the radio flash system, range was not a real issue, so I fitted the EF 135mm f/2L USM and moved back from the stunning Xanthe Rose for a longer shot. Lighting is the same for this as the wide-angle shots.




So next time the light is not looking warm enough for your shots, break out the light blue filter gels and make the ambient light warm.


About the author

Full-time photo tutor and photographer. I love to share my knowledge and skills to make photos, videos and teach others. I write books and articles for photo magazines and I always have at least one Speedlite flash in my camera bag