The Photographer’s Guide to Capturing Stunning Sunsets with Google Maps, Google Earth, and Photo Ephemeris

Sunset at Ice Polson Pier in Toronto, with the cityscape in the background and orange and pink hues in the sky.
Serene sunset at Toronto’s Ice Polson Pier, capturing the beauty of nature’s canvas as a Cityscape”

As a photographer, capturing a stunning sunset is a must-have in your portfolio. The key to getting the best shot is finding the perfect location and time. In this guide, we’ll show you how to use Google Maps, Google Earth, and Photo Ephemeris to find the ideal spot for your sunset capture.

Using Google Maps

Google Maps is an essential tool for finding the direction of the sunset and exploring the surrounding area. Simply search for the location you want to take your photo and switch to the satellite view. Then, use the compass on the top of the screen to determine the direction of the sunset. If you found your spot and the rough position of the sunset, switch to StreetView (if available) to get a first impression of the surrounding buildings or landmarks.

Using Google Earth

Google Earth provides a 3D view of the world, making it easy to find the best location for your sunset photo. Search for the location you want to take your photo and switch to the 3D view. From there, you can see the direction of the sunset and the surrounding terrain, allowing you to pick the perfect spot.

Using Google Earth Pro’s Date and Time Function

Google Earth Pro also has a date and time function that lets you see how the sun will move throughout the day. This is a useful tool for determining the exact time to take your photo. To use this feature, go to “Tools” and select “Historical Imagery”. Then, choose the date and time you want to take your photo and observe how the sun will move on this particular day.

Using Photo Ephemeris for Capturing a Stunning Sunset

Photo Ephemeris is a free online tool (you have to register once) that provides information on the sun and moon’s position, as well as altitude and azimuth, making it simple to find the best time for your photo. Enter the locationdate, and time you want to take your photo and Photo Ephemeris will provide all the information you need to capture a stunning sunset.

A photo of the Westerhever Leuchtturm lighthouse at sunset, seen from Tümlau Bay.
Beautiful view of the Westerhever Leuchtturm lighthouse from Tümlau Bay

Tips and Tricks for Capturing the Perfect Sunset

In addition to using Google Maps, Google Earth, and Photo Ephemeris, here are some tips and tricks to help you capture the perfect sunset:

  • Use a tripod to keep your camera steady
  • Experiment with different angles and compositions
  • Take test shots to make sure you have the best settings
  • Arrive early to give yourself time to set up and scout the area
  • Consider the weather and cloud cover for added interest in your shot
  • Include a sun star by choosing a smaller aperture, if it fits your composition.
A photograph of a starry night sky with the moon, Venus, and Mars visible at a sunset in Toronto.
The beauty of the moon, Venus, and Mars shines during a sunset in the Toronto streets.

In conclusion, capturing a stunning sunset is all about finding the perfect location and time. With the help of Google MapsGoogle Earth, and Photo Ephemeris, you can easily locate the ideal spot for your sunset photo. Don’t be afraid to try different locations, angles, and compositions. Take test shots to ensure you have the best settings and arrive early to give yourself time to set up and scout the area. Remember, while these online tools are useful, there’s nothing like experiencing the beauty of a sunset in person. So, grab your camera and go out there to capture your own amazing sunset shot!

Let me know on INSTAGRAM, if this quick guide was helpful or what tools you are using to capture a stunning sunset. You can find more pictures from me in my Portfolio or within my Projects.


My name is Frederic B. Konkel and to capture landscapes and cityscapes is a big passion of mine. I'm currently based in Nanjing, China. I love to explore new places and I'm using my cameras to document these moments. On F.B.K. Photography I showcase a few impressions of my captured moments from around the world.