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Thread: sunset photos

  1. #1
    allenlennon's Avatar
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    Allen or "Lurchy" is fine

    sunset photos

    Hi, i would like to know the average settings for sunsets photography. I understand that turning of AWB off and to cloudy perhaps. And maybe AEB -/+ 2ev perhaps.

    Any help?

  2. #2
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: sunset photos

    My first recommendation is to shoot RAW if your camera allows that. You then have control over your white balance in post processing. Often a white balance that is not totally accurate but which is either leaning towards the blue or the red side is pleasing for sunset shots...

    NOTE: I will most often shoot in AWB when shooting RAW because I can do all my white balance adjusting in post processing...

    Remove any protective or CPL filter because this will increase the chances of flare. Use a lens hood to protect the front element from damage...

    At first, shoot in Aperture mode using 1 stop bracketing along with a -1 stop exposure reduction. If you have a tripod, use it. You may find that a HDRI composite of the three images is a nice way to go. That is the reason for using aperture priority over Automatic, Programmed or Shutter priority modes...

    I'd use an f/stop about two stops smaller than the maximum for your lens. This will usually put you in the sweet spot of the lens. Very small aperetures are sometimes counter-productive due to diffraction...

    You should not need to use a high ISO. I do a lot of my shooting at ISO 160...

    This bracketing sequence will give you three shots: (at least with all my Canon DSLR cameras it will) one as the meter reads, one at -1 stop and one at -2 stops...

    After shooting sunsets for a while, you can get a handle on the exposure which is best and once you are used to doing this, you can shoot in Aperture priority or even manual without bracketing if you so choose. Although, this is the type of image which I like to bracket so I can take advantage of HDRI if I wish...

    I like something in my sunset shots other than a broad expanse of empty sea. A mountain, a boat, a building or a tree will give a feeling of space to the image...

    Finally, some photographers like to use a GND filter that is amber or tobacco colored to increase the reddish hue of the sky at sunset. I personally think that this most often looks phoney...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 2nd December 2011 at 04:22 PM.

  3. #3

    Re: sunset photos

    thanks richard, I'm glad to know this one.

  4. #4

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    Re: sunset photos

    Hi Allen,

    White Balancing doesn't really apply to sunset photography; white balancing is all about nulling the effect of the colour of the light source on objects, but you don't want that with sunsets. So the simple rule is "shoot RAW" and simply adjust to taste during post-processing. If you want a better idea on your review screen then set it to something low like tungsten or a custom temperature. Just think aof a photo taken by candlelight ... you wouldn't want the candle light to be white balanced as you wouldn't expect pure white light from a candle -- you'd expect yellow light. Same for sunsets.

    I note Richard's advice on bracketing; in my opinion it's really going to depend on your shutterspeed ... what's important is to not blow the highlights (if you have a highlight alert, turn it on ... and if you're seeing large areas of flashing pixels then give some thought to reducing the exposure). If you're doing short exposures then bracketing is one option that I too use, but if you're doing multi-minute exposures then bracketing is less useful as the light will change between bracket shots anyway, so you're shooting at a moving target. Best thing I can suggest is just try it and learn from the experience.

    With regards to aperture, usually, the effect it has on your shutterspeed is what governs the final selection. Stopping down a couple of stops from wide-open is great for sharpness, but if that puts you at F5.6 and you're after a 30 second shot to smooth water then you'll have too much light. Personally, I shoot at whatever I need to (often F32). My suggestion is to not worry about diffraction; if you're only producing a small print your eyes won't be able to resolve it, and if you're only producing an image for internet display then the diffraction will have been long since sampled out when the image is cut down to a reasonable size for display (correct sharpening is far more important).
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 2nd December 2011 at 09:39 PM.

  5. #5
    allenlennon's Avatar
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    Re: sunset photos

    Thank you mates. Great advice. I'll spend a couple of days doin sunsets to practice. Cheers

  6. #6
    Don't rule out GND filters though, just the overly romantic off-whites such as amber. If you really get into it, take a look a true GND filters that simply bring down the blow-outs from the sun itself, the grey ones. Normally, from Lee to Conkin, they'll come in two stop increments. If the sky is more than two stops over the exposure of the rest of the scene, these will be invaluable. But even the cheapest are a new expense if you're on a budget.

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    Re: sunset photos

    Very good advice. Post 2 and Post 6 are contradictory. Which and why?

    Thanks.

  8. #8

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    Re: sunset photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobird View Post
    Very good advice. Post 2 and Post 6 are contradictory. Which and why?
    Hi Bobo,

    Which are the contradictory parts?
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 4th December 2011 at 07:30 AM.

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    Re: sunset photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobird View Post
    Very good advice. Post 2 and Post 6 are contradictory. Which and why?

    Thanks.
    They both advise against using coloured gradient filters (calling them GND is a bit of a misnomer I'd say, the idea being they are not neutral. Both do suggest using GND (the neutral ones) to limit dynamic range.

  10. #10

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    Re: sunset photos

    I use my GNDs all the time - wouldn't want to be without them. Can't say I've ever found the need for anything onther than neutral colouring.

  11. #11
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    Re: sunset photos

    I shoot all susnets in RAW but suggest to all my students who are shooting jpeg to shoot with the Cloudy setting. With so much red/orange the AWB tries to add blue to correct for the colour and desaturates sunrises/sunsets.

    AWB will always try to show colours as they would appear in daylight. To photograph the colour of ligth as you see it then you are better to use Daylight but by shifting one notch higher you are telling the camera the scene is really on the cool side and fool it to add a little extra warmth.

  12. #12
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    Re: sunset photos

    What helped me and worked in getting good results was measuring for light on the sky, left or right of the sun. The light itself is difficult for some cameras, but the sky should work fine. Then use some bracketing to get the right atmosphere.

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    Re: sunset photos

    I took the following in RAW, with a 30D Canon 1/100 sec @ 6.3, then looked at the various presets in ACR, and saved as JPEG. (no sharpening or alterations otherwise). See how much control you have using RAW rather than the preset on the camera.

    sunset photos

    sunset photos

    sunset photos

    sunset photos

    sunset photos

    sunset photos
    Last edited by Ken MT; 5th December 2011 at 09:48 PM.

  14. #14
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    Re: sunset photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken MT View Post
    I took the following in RAW, with a 30D Canon 1/100 sec @ 6.3, then looked at the various presets in ACR, and saved as JPEG. (no sharpening or alterations otherwise). See how much control you have using RAW rather than the preset on the camera.
    Just out of curosity, Ken, can you recall which of these is closest to what you actually saw when to took the shot?

  15. #15

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    Re: sunset photos

    Probably as shot, 'though may have been a bit brighter (say +0.6 exposure)

  16. #16
    allenlennon's Avatar
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    Re: sunset photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Letrow View Post
    What helped me and worked in getting good results was measuring for light on the sky, left or right of the sun. The light itself is difficult for some cameras, but the sky should work fine.
    how do you do this? i have a canon 1000d

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