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Thread: Landscape suggestions needed

  1. #1
    teokf's Avatar
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    Landscape suggestions needed

    These two photos were shot along the same beach and within 45 minutes before it became too dark. When shooting the setting sun, I generally prefer the colours of the second photo when the sun has gone below the horizon.

    Although the first photo, in my opinion fulfills all the technical aspects of landscape photography that's not my preference. I still prefer the colours of the second photo, but it limits my composition as the surrounding is too dark and it's difficult to bring anything in the foreground into the photo. Hope you are understanding what I am trying to convey.

    My question. How could I compose a better setting sun landscape with a clearer foreground with my preference when the sun has already gone below the horizon? Maybe there's no need to have a foreground? Would appreciate any suggestions and pointers.

    Thanks

    Landscape suggestions needed

    Landscape suggestions needed

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Landscape suggestions needed

    My answer to your question would be 'Graduated Neutral Density Filters'.

    That would allow you to go for longer, or much longer (depending on on the strength of the filter(s) applied), exposures. The GNDs would hold back the sky and the same amount of light as you have in this image would pass through. So you would have the same exposure on the sky. But much more light from the land would pass through and you would get a better exposure on that.

    Does that help? Are you familiar with GNDs and how they work?

    I couldn't see any EXIF data in your images, so do not know what your exposure settings were for either of these images.

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    Re: Landscape suggestions needed

    +1 to Donald's advice, but as an alternative - if you shoot RAW (especially if you take several shots and average them) you may be able to dig out enough foreground detail to satisfy your requirements. Exposure is critical though - you can't afford to under-expose.

    This is an example of a shot with shadow info recovered from RAW (although you need to have a correctly profiled monitor to be able to see it)

    Landscape suggestions needed

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    teokf's Avatar
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    Re: Landscape suggestions needed

    Donald, Colin I did use a Cokin/Tian Ya 2stops GND filter for these two shots. All are shot in RAW. The exif are as below

    1st photo: f/18 | 1/15sec | ISO200 | FL 16mm
    2nd photo: f/16 | 1sec | ISO200 | FL 13mm

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    Re: Landscape suggestions needed

    Quote Originally Posted by teokf View Post
    Donald, Colin I did use a Cokin/Tian Ya 2stops GND filter for these two shots. All are shot in RAW. The exif are as below

    1st photo: f/18 | 1/15sec | ISO200 | FL 16mm
    2nd photo: f/16 | 1sec | ISO200 | FL 13mm
    Can you not reveal enough shadow detail using a fill light slider then?

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    Re: Landscape suggestions needed

    For this type of shot, my approach would be to take two exposures, and blend them in photoshop. Spot meter the sky, and the foreground. Note the exposures and expose separately for each. When metering, vary the shutter speed & not the aperture.
    Use a layer mask in photoshop with a gradient fill applied to blend the two exposures. Selectively edit the layer mask to achieve the desired effect.

    Just my 2c

    Jeff

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    Re: Landscape suggestions needed

    Quote Originally Posted by escaladieu View Post
    Use a layer mask in photoshop with a gradient fill applied to blend the two exposures. Selectively edit the layer mask to achieve the desired effect.
    Hi Jeff,

    Another slight variation is to forget the gradient fill and just paint the mask manually. One thing folks don't always realise is that when they paint a mask the opacity of the brush doesn't have to be set to 100% - if one sets it to something low like 5 to 10% then one can build up the mask with incredible control.

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    Re: Landscape suggestions needed

    Steven. The experts have already dealt with the technical side of these shots so I will just mention the composition.

    A foreground image, when it works well, can really add impact to a sunset/sunrise photo, as you suggested. But there aren't really any firm guidelines.

    But the tricky bit is getting everything in perfect harmony.

    Your first shot is excellent, although I do find that tiny bit of cloud towards the top left corner a little distracting.

    However, I feel that there is a little too much 'action' on the left and nothing of balance on the right. For me, if the sun was setting on the other side (the right) then those two figures would be looking towards the light.

    Alternatively, if they were sitting more towards the right and facing left it would balance better. I have considered a crop but can't really find anything better that what you currently have.

    But, to be honest, I'm merely considering the difference between an excellent photo and a guaranteed prizewinner.

    With the second one, there is for me, just a fraction too much black on the bottom so I would prefer a very slight crop of the black area and a corresponding amount on the right side. But I'm only talking about a very little; maybe reducing the black by one third at the most, possibly less.

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    teokf's Avatar
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    Re: Landscape suggestions needed

    firstly, I want to say "thanks" for all the pointers on how to make a better photo of these two samples. I have always struggled with beach landscape especially when balancing the top and bottom half. Now it looks like I have to speed up on my Photoshop learning curve as I am still at a lose about "masking and layering".

    Colin, I tried the "Fill light" slider, but it ended up to noisy. At this point, I might not fully understand what you suggested about masking, but will work on that area.

    Geoff, you are the first person I am hearing that says a foreground is not a firm guideline for landscape. In another forum that I post my photos in; my beach landscapes is always considered "forgettable" since there's no foreground. For a guy who has been shooting for about 2 years, it's kind of a relief to hear you say this. Thanks for the tip about "balancing". I didn't consider this aspect when shooting landscape as I was concentrating on getting an interesting foreground subject.

    The tiny bit of cloud that you find distracting. I think you are mentioning the branches of a tree that I fail to crop off completely 8-)

    Thanks for all these stuff. It is a great place to get help.

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    Re: Landscape suggestions needed

    Quote Originally Posted by teokf View Post
    Colin, I tried the "Fill light" slider, but it ended up to noisy. At this point, I might not fully understand what you suggested about masking, but will work on that area.
    If you're only using a 1 second exposure then you can take a number of shots (perhaps 30 or 60) and average (stack) them ... it averages out the noise. It's also vital not to under-expose this type of shot as it's very high dynamic range and pushes the sensor right to the limit.

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