Photography Tips: Sunset Disappointment PT1

A couple weeks ago I thought I’d go out and shoot some hints and tips about photographing a sunset. Had a look at the weather forecast we checked to see what was going on the weather conditions look quite good there’s a few clouds in the sky a bit of moisture in the air which usually helps sort of pimp up the colours a bit but he didn’t actually deliver, now I was very tempted to delete the footage and just write it off as a bad job as a waste of time but then I thought about all the times when you possibly make the effort to go somewhere after work or whatever and the same thing happens to you it doesn’t quite deliver because there’s a temptation to think what it doesn’t matter i’ll mend it in Lightroom or something.In my experience this doesn’t really work that well, you can fix things to an extent but it’s never going to be great you know what I mean. You really do need to be in the right place at the right time to get something really good and then you can take your raw file into post-production and then you can really make the best out of that now some of you at this point maybe thinking yeah I don’t want to do post-production I want to get it right in the camera but here’s the thing….theres post production done on your raw file no matter what, it’s just a case of whether you do it or whether you allow your camera to do it for you I’m just a bit more about it in a minute when you see the actual shoot video so this is gonna be a two-parter in this part i’m going to show you the shoot we did i’m going to show you the disappointment over it not really quite delivering the goods and you’re going to see a shot that I took in the same location maybe 4-5 months ago when the when the conditions were absolutely perfect so I’m going to show you some unprocessed raw files as well as the ones that I’ve processed your gunna see those in a minute and then in part two i’m going to go through them in Lightroom with you and just explain and show you that yeah it’s okay but it’s still never going to be as good as the good one when the situation was right so in this one it’s about thinking the shot through using your seven building blocks of photography how to find the settings and all the rest of it and if you’re not too sure about those…ultimate beginners course enjoy the film guys and I’ll see you in part two when we have a look at the rules Brrrr it’s an half chilly standing here but I thought I’d come out here anyway because the weather forecast said the conditions were really good for great sunset that’s why I’m in silhouette you’ve got a bit of orangey stuff going on up here in the sky now often the best time to shoot a sunset in my opinion is before the sun has gone over the horizon i’m going to move around a bit so you can see me but you never quite know, now the weather forecast said we’re probably going to have some great conditions for a sunset theres a bit haze in the air they were supposed to in some cloud and I thought well that’ll be really cool, it didn’t say much about wind, wind is a nuisance because we’ve got ripples on the water here and if you haven’t got ripples here you get a lovely mirror reflection of these trees over there this is a shot i took down here only two months ago ok it’s the right conditions and this is about being in the right place at the right time for a sunset the other thing when looking at this image you can see that it’s not just a sunset I think sunsets that much better when you include something in the picture something of the surroundings something of the area like in this shot we’ve got reflections going on in the water so it wasn’t a breath of air right now I don’t think conditions are brilliant but I thought we’d come down here and I just talk you through the thought process of shooting a sunset you know what would I compose the shop has what are my options here and then we’d have a look at how do you expose for it, we may get a good shot we may not but if we don’t then let’s make the best of a bad job because theres gunna me lots of times when you’re going to think oh I’m going to stop on the way home and see if I can photograph the sunset sometimes it doesn’t happen, happens to the best of us so what would my options be let’s have a little look and i’m gunna film a bit of video in here and we’ll stick it as an inset. Now theres obviously so many ways you can go about this, let me see what I can do to get a bit of video rocking and rolling hit the video button there we go now I could be sort of just putting the horizon through the middle there but it’s not terribly exciting but i kinda like these trees over here, I like this little clump and I like the Sun now just having sort of you know maybe something like that just sunset and waters all right but it’s not terribly exciting is it, so how about we come over here and include some of this clump the trees and a little shortening of focal length and that’s looking a little bit more interesting isn’t there but it’s not great now what could we do look what we’ve got down here we’ve got a puddle so i’m going to move back i’m gonna make poor simon…don’t fall over that thing behind you good good i’m going to come here and just get a bit lower and see if i can put this puddle into the foreground and just sort’ve shorten the lens so look if i shorten the lens there we go were getting a bit of puddle there and as I tweak it in a bit more there we go we’ve got another element to our composition so something like that might work now then I think that is probably what could be good as a composition, if we’re lucky if I can get lower, we may even be able to pick up a little bit of red if some of that happens, i’m not convinced it’s gonna happen because we’ve got this low-lying haze Now I said a moment ago I think often the best time to shoot a sunset is when…shall I move round to the side you can see me a bit better I think often the best time to shoot a sunset is when the sun is still in the sky shoot into the sun, now that can prevent some exposure problems but it’s not really that difficult but i may be wrong and tonight it could be a case when the Sun has dipped below the horizon it will set the sky on fire I don’t know but it will mean everything else is going to be in silhouette it virtually is now. So how would I expose for a shot like this from here going straight into the sun well let’s get my puddle back i’m gunna have to go into silhouette again for a moment viewers unless you want to come round to the side simon it’s up to you mate umm he’s gone round the side haha I do have a voice I do have authority, he’s laughing at me so let’s see, we’ve already seen the composition so how would I expose well the first thing I do is just let the camera do it on its own i use evaluative metering mode almost all the time so it’s measuring the entire scene…now i know the sun’s going to affect that and it may make it dark but because of our composition we’ve got a lot of the surroundings in there and there’s some very dark tones there, they’re going to compensate for the brightness of the Sun and force the camera to brighten it up a little bit now I say force the camera but it will tell the light meter what to do so my starting point would be to expose using all over exposure mode what’s it called evaluative and then have a look and see what it looks like check the histogram let’s just shoot a shot so what am I using i’m going to use a smallish aperture f11 I’ve got a 200th of a second shutter speed I’m at 24 millimetres I guess, on a crop sensor for those of you worry about such things i’m going to photograph, sorry focus out on the lake somewhere there’s my composition just take a shot so I take a shot and then have a look and see what my histogram has to say about it all histogram says it’s all a little bit dark, the silhouettes are quite dark there are some mid-tones there but that’s probably mostly sky there’s a very small spike on the right which is going to be the sun burnt out now the sun’s going to burn out no matter what the sun always does burn out but it is suggesting to me I can move my histogram to the right i can bring in a bit more shadow detail and then in post-production in Lightroom i can then bring those back up because i’m shooting raw i always recommend shooting raw and then making your own JPEG’s there’s almost no such thing as an unprocessed picture straight from the camera because your camera will shoot a raw and then it will process that into a JPEG so some post production has happened it’s just the cameras done it instead of you I’d rather do it myself okeydoke so let me increase my exposure a bit i’m shooting an aperture priority mode and I’m going to take it up two-thirds of a stop and just have another little look you know take some test shots don’t think you’ve got to do everything all in one go and get it perfect two-thirds of a stop that has lifted my histogram off to the right quite a lot we got a little bit of a spike going on but it’s not bad i think two-thirds of a stop is probably enough because I know that in Lighroom i can bring those highlights down a bit brighten up those shadows a bit, so now I kind of know what my compositions going to be for this particular shot it’s just a waiting game so i’ll check back in with you in a moment we’ll see what happens as the sun gets a bit lower maybe just as it starts to kiss the horizon through the trees over there we’ve got this light path sort of running, let me come over here a bit….we’ve got a light path running behind me up to the sun and you can just see the trees on the far side of the pond there as the Sun comes down to kiss those it may look a bit better so i’ll check in with you in a moment guys The sun is now just kissing the top of those trees lets take another shot and just have a look and see how it looks we still haven’t got anything too exciting there’s a bit more colour just starting to happen up there i think i may have moved a little….nah thats okay and just always keep an eye on your exposure. I’m now down to a 45th of a second the light levels have dropped the differential in the exposure compensation should still be the same i’m still plus point you know two-thirds of a stop let’s just take the shot and compose it up nicely see we’ve got…I’m not sure if I flick between the two shots it’s not a great deal to choose between them to be honest with you colour wise it doesn’t have much different the sky is a little nicer possibly in the second shot we will have another look in about 5-10 minutes time and just see if we get a bit more colour going on we’re getting a bit of colour start to happen i keep forgetting where I was standing because we keep going and hiding in the car to keep warm, coz it is cold I don’t know how cold it is but it’s cold let’s get down here and recreate the same composition that we had before it was something like that and I think we got a bit more color going on in the sky now just now when I press the button then I don’t know if you heard it in the video but I heard my shutter was slow it’s sort of went ccccclick as apposed to click! so when I check this and it is its down to a 15th of a second so i need to speed it up a bit to make sure I don’t get camera shake because i’m not using a tripod i love a tripod but i’m not using one right now so let’s just open up the aperture let’s just get a bit more light coming in now i’ve gone to f7 there abouts it isn’t going to make much difference to the depth of field because my lens isn’t particularly long you know I’m focusing at the affinity point or beyond which is probably where that puddle is so depth of field isn’t an issue here i’m using my aperture as an exposure control not a depth of field control i could of course also changed my ISO if I wish because i’m down at 200 still to try and keep colours right let me just take another shot with the shutter just that little bit faster I am in the wrong place, i need to move a bit because my puddle isn’t quite where i want it that’sss better now then lets get my crops of trees and I want that and what have we got histograms saying I could brighten it up a little more which is probably a good idea because even though looking in the back of the camera this looks quite bright in the post-production I’ll pull it down again you want to go brightening up dark things in post-production because it makes them go grainy your much better to darken bright things so long as you haven’t clicked the data off on the bright end you can do that really easily so I’m going to increase my exposure a bit i was on two-thirds i’m going to go to a full stop over just take another shot have a look see what it looks like you can always delete the ones you don’t want. If I flick between those….the histograms yeah it moves over to the right a bit. i don’t know think we’re going to get anything better than what we’ve got now so it really is i think a case of making the best of a bad job so in part two let’s go and have a look at these in the computer in lightroom and see what we can do about them. They’re probably not images that i would personally want to keep or use because i know it could be so much better but let’s imagine the scenario you’ve gone on holiday somewhere and this isn’t just a pond down the road from where you live which it is for me this is somewhere really special and you’re not likely to be going back that way again so let’s have a look and I’m just going to see what we can do to improve on this a bit back to the office next time.


  1. MyKonaRC February 13, 2019 at 1:39 am

    7:49 punĀ intended about the sun? haha!

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