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Thread: Guidance needed on sunset photos

  1. #1
    Soozie B's Avatar
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    Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Hi everyone,

    Tonight I ventured out at sunset to try my hand at capturing the glorious colours against the landscape. Although I believe I almost captured the beautiful sky, I'm not sure I have pulled it off quite as well as I would have liked (technical errors occurring that I don't know how to fix in camera such as sun glare etc). I have cropped them as well from original images.

    Some C&C would be appreciated to help me understand where I can improve please

    1. This is my favourite as I just love the road that seems to lead to the setting sun

    Settings: ISO100, f8, 1/200

    Guidance needed on sunset photos
    Road to Heaven by Soozie_Lou_B, on Flickr

    2. Silhouette - the more I look at this one the more I think I like it

    Settings: ISO100, f4, 1/250

    Guidance needed on sunset photos
    Silhouette by Soozie_Lou_B, on Flickr

    3. I would like this one better if there wasn't a reflection of the sun on the foreground

    Settings: ISO100, f7.1, 1/400

    Guidance needed on sunset photos
    Sunset by Soozie_Lou_B, on Flickr

  2. #2

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    I usually wait until the sun has gone below the horizon as the light will still be dramatic. I do like your tree though, there is just a hint of colour in it.

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    I'll let the sunrise/sunset experts attend to most of your concerns but I do want to mention that the second one is really nice, certainly the best image that I remember seeing that came from your camera. You could select the shadow areas and brighten them just a tad and/or select the blue part of the sky and darken it just a tad. Whether you leave the image as is or make some subtle changes, it's definitely a very nice keeper.

    Oops! I forgot to mention that I wonder if you can allow a little more space to the left and right of the tree, allowing it a bit more room to "breathe."

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    Soozie B's Avatar
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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Thanks Keith and Mike for the feedback. I'll have another go at it soon when the sun has actually gone down and see what I can do.

    Mike, thanks for pointing out the lack of space on the tree, I will see how much room I have on the original. As for altering the darkness, sky etc, I will have a go, however my post processing is not good and I get rather despondent at my results. This is such a nice image I would hate to wreck it (though I would only ruin a copy).

    I got quite a surprise when you said it was the best you can remember from me, to me this means despite last weeks failure I am improving. So a heartfelt thanks, your comments made me feel so much better

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    I second Keith's advice, to wait till the sun is lower or the clouds are obscuring it more. I like the first image, and I believe taken 3-5 minutes later it would have been a really nice photo.

    There are a couple of other things that made a big difference to me when I worked on improving my sunrise/sunset photos... one was using a graduated neutral density (GND) filter and the other was shooting in raw.

    Using a GND filter while taking the shot to hold back some of that brightness in the sky will allow the foreground to be more discernable and look more similar to how we see it with our own eyes. If preferable, these GNDs can be applied digitally reasonably successfully if you make a conscious effort of not over-exposing the sky when taking the photo. The only downside of the digital is that it may create more graininess within your photo if you darken or lighten too far from the original exposure.

    Shooting in a raw format can also help by allowing you to add some fill light to the shadowed areas and sometimes you are able to recover some of what may be appear as blown highlights on your camera. You may already be doing this... but I thought I'd mention it. One thing to remember if you do shoot in raw is that you will need to sharpen more than you would with a jpg.

  6. #6
    Soozie B's Avatar
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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Thanks Trace. I have actually changed across to RAW in the last month so am still finding my way with it. One quick question tho, how does one sharpen in camera or is this a PP activity?

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Hi Soozie, I still have plenty to learn about shooting into the sun but for these images here's a few thoughts.
    Picture 1. Your horizon doesnt appear level and you might crop this one a bit more.
    Picture 2. Silhouettes are fun, this one the tree is a little big for a silhouette but your well on the right track.
    Picture 3. I really like the painted sky effect you have with this one. The flare you referred to probably comes from a filter? I learnt this last month when asking CiC members about it.
    One thing I do a lot now for sunsets is use a zoom to bring the sun up closer to the foreground, especially for silhouettes . This means positioning yourself further away but can get some great results. Just keep trying different things and you will see for yourself. Waiting until the afterglow as Keith and Trace said is sometimes good particularly if their are some good clouds, but you will need a tripod.

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Soozie, I can only say about Canon EOS 1000D for sharpening in camera, you would use the Picture Settings, User Defined and set the Sharpening higher than it normally is, on Standard picture it is set at 3, Landscape at 4, the maximum is 7.

    Keith

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Soozie,

    Be sure to digest the very informative information in the CiC tutorials pertaining to sharpening.

    A technique that I find helpful is to use fairly high in-camera sharpening of my RAW files. That makes it possible to review the images on the camera's LCD for sharpness and depth of field. My first step during post-processing is to negate all in-camera sharpening. (This is a particular advantage when shooting RAW files that can't be done when shooting JPEG files.) That's because not all images require the same amount of sharpening and because certain images are best sharpened only locally, not globally. As an example, I never sharpen clear blue skies because they sometimes look awful when displayed on a large television.

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Another point about shooting while the Sun is below the horizon, Don't give up ! Some of the most naturally saturated colors don't appear until the Sun is 30 to 45 minutes below the horizon. Just keep waiting and shooting.

    Also, don't just look towards the Sunset or Sunrise, look around and you'll see great colorful scenes all around you.

    Click on the "My Photography" in my signature for some examples.

  11. #11
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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Soozie, you have a nice image in #2, I would agree a little more space could improve it slightly. I too like to get the sun below the horizon although that does not mean don't shoot before hand. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't either way.

    With your second shot, I thought I would have a play at editing this small file to see what is there. I brought highlights down a little to preserve detail in the sky. Then brought the shadows up a bit to expose some of the landscape. I added just a touch of contrast. I then went in and individually dropped the vibrace in the red, orange, yellow and aqua and blue.....not much but just enough to richen the colors.
    I like how it brought out some of that haze in the low sky along the horizon.
    I hope you like it and get a little help from it, if not say the word and I will remove it.

    Guidance needed on sunset photos

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Soozie B View Post
    . . . Some C&C would be appreciated to help me understand where I can improve please . . .
    3. I would like this one better if there wasn't a reflection of the sun on the foreground
    I do not think it is a reflection as I believe you would expect – It appears to be a perfect example of what is known as a ‘Ghost Image’.
    Ghost Images are usually caused by an inversion inside the lens, of a very bright area of a scene, (in this case the TOP half of the Sun) which is then bounced back to an inner wall of one of the groups and then bounced back to the Sensor (or Film).

    Did you have an EF-S 55 to 250 on your camera?
    Did you have a UV / ‘protection’ Filter on the lens?

    If so, get rid of that filter when you are shooting Sunsets – if you are using the 55 to 250 – try not to wind it out to the full extent of the zoom: if you have a Prime Lens, then use it when you can.

    ***

    BTW – the silhouette is not a ‘silhouette’ - you’ve over exposed for it to be a silhouette – that doesn’t make it any less or more of a good picture – just mentioning that IF you wanted the image to be a silhouette, then you are overexposing the scene (and perhaps mucking around with the foreground too, much in PP).

    Simulation correct exposure to make a Silhouette – original is on the left:
    Guidance needed on sunset photos

    WW

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoByTrace View Post
    I second Keith's advice, to wait till the sun is lower or the clouds are obscuring it more. I like the first image, and I believe taken 3-5 minutes later it would have been a really nice photo.
    Hi Trace,

    The actual time varies -- t's just a case of "the longer you wait" the "longer the exposure" (I have some that were taken about an hour after sunset, but required a 20 minute exposure).

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Soozie B View Post
    Thanks Trace. I have actually changed across to RAW in the last month so am still finding my way with it. One quick question tho, how does one sharpen in camera or is this a PP activity?
    Hi Soozie,

    In-camera sharpening has no effect on a RAW capture (the sharpening is only applied to the JPEG that the camera generates to display on the review screen). The in-camera setting may (or may not) also be applied to the RAW capture during post-processing, depending on which package you use (Adobe products don't apply what's set in the camera, whereas the manufacturers packages typically do).

    Personally, I like to start with a "clean slate" because with regards to sharpening, you need at least 3 applications of different strengths at different parts of the workflow for optimal results.

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Soozie B;
    Thanks Trace. I have actually changed across to RAW in the last month so am still finding my way with it. One quick question tho, how does one sharpen in camera or is this a PP activity?Thanks Trace. I have actually changed across to RAW in the last month so am still finding my way with it. One quick question tho, how does one sharpen in camera or is this a PP activity?
    Soozie, glad to read you are already working with raw, it will help with this style of photo once you've played for a bit and found what works and what doesn't. Which pp software are you using with your raw files? Colin and Mike have given some good insight into the difference between in-camera sharpening and pp sharpening for raw and the CiC tutorials were where I started in my learning curve on sharpening. Looking forward to your next pics

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Trace,

    The actual time varies -- t's just a case of "the longer you wait" the "longer the exposure" (I have some that were taken about an hour after sunset, but required a 20 minute exposure).
    Of course Though I prefer the peace of morning so I usually start at the other end of the day well before the sun gets up and quit shooting towards the sun once it is over the horizon (unless there's some atmospheric haze diffusing it) or until it has broken through the clouds when they are low to the horizon. Agreed at night it can be easier to setup and compose as you are in daylight, AND it can be more interesting as you then get into shooting with the stars or nightlights depending on your location. Just rarely seems to fit in around my other commitments as nicely

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoByTrace View Post
    Of course Though I prefer the peace of morning so I usually start at the other end of the day well before the sun gets up and quit shooting towards the sun once it is over the horizon (unless there's some atmospheric haze diffusing it) or until it has broken through the clouds when they are low to the horizon. Agreed at night it can be easier to setup and compose as you are in daylight, AND it can be more interesting as you then get into shooting with the stars or nightlights depending on your location. Just rarely seems to fit in around my other commitments as nicely
    "Been there - done that". Nothing like walking over jagged rocks at 4:30am wearing waders and carrying 3 camera bags and a tripod (and then trying to explain to the police that although one might be insane, it's a totally legal version of insanity called photography!)

    The "fun" with long exposures in the morning is that one needs to remember that the light levels will increase during the exposure, which needs to be taken into account.

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    PS: Soozie - with shots like your tree shot, flip the camera to a horizontal orientation and just use the tree as a visual anchor instead of making it the sole focus of the shot. eg ...

    Guidance needed on sunset photos

  18. #18
    Soozie B's Avatar
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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Wow ... So much to absorb. I'll read and re read this a few times and then come back with questions and hopefully some better shots.

    Thanks so much everyone for your input. It is invaluable

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    Soozie B's Avatar
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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoByTrace View Post
    Which pp software are you using with your raw files?
    Trace, I am using paint shop pro (latest version and Lightroom 4 - although still learning how to use both of them)
    Last edited by Donald; 30th October 2012 at 11:06 PM. Reason: Inserted 'close quote' tag

  20. #20

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    Re: Guidance needed on sunset photos

    Nice shots Soozie, was expecting some ducks in there but....

    I like #2.

    Glad you brought up the topic. I do very few landscapes but will always try to do a sunset if possible. So this thread is a good one to learn from.

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