Sunset and starburst photography in Menorca

I was both surprised and honoured to be invited on a press trip to Menorca recently, courtesy of the guys at Traverse, allowing me to experience both Jet2 to get there and Turismo Menorca when I was there! I’ve been to both its sister islands of Majorca and Ibiza for your more typical “lads/group” beach holidays so until now Menorca had been overlooked. I won’t be making that same mistake again.

Starburst under an arch at Cova d'en Zoroi

Starburst shot under an arch at the Cova d’en Zoroi cave bar

Our group was provided with a jam-packed itinerary for the week ranging from kayaking, to gin tasting, to boat riding, to cheese tasting … even driving Nissan electric cars around the island. Menorca was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993 so the island is seeking to further promote its tourism with an emphasis on sustainability.

What struck me most however was the ever present sunshine and stunning sunsets. Menorca is the most eastern of the Balearic Islands so you get to see the sunset before anywhere else in Spain so I wanted to share my favourite “sunshine” photos of the trip! Plus add some beginners’ top tips on how you can achieve beautiful starburst shots and sunset images too!

15 starburst and sunset top tips

1. Sunny day
Shoot for sunbursts on a bright sunny day. It’s hard to create the effect if the sun’s not out! Same goes for sunsets.

Sunset from the Cova d'en Xoroi cave bar

Sunset image from the Cova d’en Xoroi cave bar


2. Clean that lens

Any specks of dust will become more obvious when you’re pointing towards the sun.

A starburst in beautifully white-washed Binibeca

A starburst in beautifully white-washed Binibeca


3. Use a small aperture
Set your camera to the aperture priority mode. Then set your aperture to F/14 or above (so it’s a smaller hole) so more of your landscape scene is in focus. Go up to F/22 for those starbursts (thanks for that tip Sean Byrne). The smaller the aperture, the longer and more defined the rays of the sunburst will be. Be careful not to stare at the sun of course!

The aperture dial setting on my Fuji DSLR

The aperture dial setting on my DSLR


4. Set a low ISO

A lower ISO setting will mean less grain and noise in your final image. Set it to 100 or 200.

ISO 100 setting on my DSLR

ISO 100 setting on my DSLR


5. Consider a tripod
– “sunsets”
As it gets darker your camera’s shutter speed may go too low and you could end up with blurry photos. Also a tripod might help to compose a better photo through the viewfinder.

6. Partially block the sun – “starbursts”
For starbursts have the sun poke out behind a building, arch, mountainside, or even some trees as that will help defract the light. Move around slightly so you can see the starburst image get bigger or smaller in the viewfinder depending on how much of the sun is being blocked by the object.

Starburst over the corner of the Catedral de Santa-Maria de Ciutadella

Starburst shot over the corner of the Catedral de Santa-Maria de Ciutadella


7. White Balance
– “sunsets”
Change the white balance from ‘auto’ to ‘shade” to make the image more “golden”.

White balance shade setting

White balance shade setting


8. Foreground objects
– “sunsets”
Consider having something interesting in the foreground to add depth to the scene.

Sunset from Cap Roig restaurant looking over Punta de sa Creueta island

Sunset photo from Cap Roig restaurant looking over Punta de sa Creueta island

Sunset at Cova d'en Xoroi again but so much better with the foreground. Source: https://www.teacaketravels.com/

Sunset image at Cova d’en Xoroi again but so much better with the foreground. Source: https://www.teacaketravels.com/


9. Set the horizon lower … and level
– “sunsets”
Try not to put the horizon in the middle of the photo. Have the horizon 1/3 of the way up and focus 1/3 up from the bottom of the photo too.

Sunset looking back over to Es Castell from Illa del Llatzeret

Sunset image looking back over to Es Castell from Illa del Llatzeret


10. Underexpose
– “sunsets”
Slightly underexposing your shot should make the sunset colors look more rich and defined. Use aperture priority again and the exposure compensation dial and set it somewhere between -1 and -2.

The exposure dial setting on my Fuji DSLR

The exposure dial setting on my DSLR


11. Check behind you
– “sunsets”
A beautiful backdrop behind you might be bathed in some magical warm light.

12. The “Golden Hour” -“sunsets”
The sky and its clouds will start to change colour after the official sunset with a “second sunset” 25 minutes later. Well worth hanging around for!

13. Silhouettes – “sunsets”
Have some fun with the foreground, finding a recognisable subject such as a body, a lamppost of a detailed pier. Just not anything too big and blocky.

Sunset looking back over to Es Castell from Illa del Llatzeret

Sunset shot 25 minutes later after “sunset”, looking back over to Es Castell from Illa del Llatzeret


14. Don’t delete from the camera
A photo that looks ok on your LCD screen might be too light/dark on a computer screen so check them on the computer first before deleting (a tip from Pete of Compass Chasers).

A Starburst shot looking up towards a tree in Binibeca

A Starburst shot looking up towards a tree in Binibeca


15. Enjoy it! 🙂

One of the most important tips! Make sure you “look with your eyes” and savour the view and not solely see it through a viewfinder or LCD screen.

A Starburst sunset at the Alcaufar tower

A Starburst sunset at the Alcaufar tower

Have I missed any sunset and starburst photography tips? Anything you would add?

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