Sunset at Marsh Creek

f/8, 36mm, ISO 100, 1/50 second, no filter – 10 stitched panorama – 6 X 18 – 63 Mega Pixels – shot at 7:50PM

Shooting sunsets without filter to me is very difficult specially if the difference between the sky and foreground is almost 4 or 5 stops. That is a nightmare to shoot. It’s either you’ll get blown highlights or very dark shadows. If you see a very perfect sunset photo there is some kind of filter use or digital manipulation done like HDR, manual blending, freaky detail, color matching, luminosity mask etc etc. I don’t really like to spend that much time in the computer and also I am not that good with Photoshop.

Even more difficult to shoot in stitched panorama because all frames must be of the same exposure. A Grad ND filter when used properly will even the exposure of the scene. Say you spot meter the sky at 1/125th of a second and the foreground at 1/30th you have to use a 2 stops Grad ND filter to have an evenly expose photo.

In this photo above I waited until the sun was below the horizon to somehow lessen the difference in exposure between the sky and foreground. I spot metered in the trees across the lake and did a couple of test shots and checked in my LCD if there was detail in foreground and sky with just one shot. The source of light was just the sun and when it was too low in the horizon it illuminated the yellow wild flowers in the foreground. I stitched 10 RAW frames in Adobe Photoshop CS5 and exported the TIFF 16-bit to Adobe Lightroom 4 for post process and mainly adjusted the highlights and shadows detail. When you click the photo to enlarge it you will see people in kayaks.

Hope you enjoy it!


PS. I was offered an instructor position in a photography workshop chain that has 20 branches nationwide. I said no and told them my photography is just for fun. I was flattered though. Why would someone pay too much to learn how to shoot, it boggles my mind.


33 thoughts on “Sunset at Marsh Creek

  1. First, the photo is really beautiful. Second, I really appreciate the explanation! I always wonder how some of these photos are achieved, and I love being able to explain it to hubby! Thank you so much!

  2. Very nice shot! I like low light and later sunset work myself. Especially if I can find a body of water. I’ve gotta agree on your comments about your job offer. I’ve never taken a class and have shot hard film since 1983. I’m amazed the number of people who comment that “you HAVE to have this camera with this lens” to shoot decent images. I keep telling them, it’s in the eye and not necessarily the equipment. Great blog!

  3. Good shooting.

    Should also mention these kind of shots are very dynamic, and need to be done in quick order because the light changes so quickly (A little less quickly once the sun is below the horizon, but still quick).

    Congratulations on the offer . . . and to answer your question, people tend to assume there is some kind of trick they can learn to get them to their destination. Outright learning, hard work, and perseverance is so unfair!!

  4. This is magnificent. Thank you for all your “nuts and bolts” in getting these types photos. I know what you mean about turning down the job. Doing it for the love and fun of it frees the ability to just unleash creativity. I appreciate those who can work in the confines of a camera shopโ€”someone has to do itโ€”but you know the hours of work are spent restless to get out and click! Thank you again for sharing your beautiful work.

    • Thanks for the comments. The funny thing is I am not even that good. I love digital, instant feedback after every shot,,oh this is good I will use this exposure. No magic tricks really. LOL.

  5. Your treatment to the picture has totally transformed it.The outburst of color from the setting sun captures my eyes first.Secondly, the yellow flowers, and third the reflections on water.Beautifully done!

  6. I agree with SimplySage – thanks for the ‘nuts and bolts’, they really help with trying things myself.

    People regularly ask me: “Have you done a photogrpahy course” etc… I usually say: “No – I just took a LOT of bad photos while figuring out how to use this thing and I didn’t show you the horrible ones….” :P.

    Oh – and I actually read the camera manual – amazing how many people don’t bother!

  7. Another gorgeous shot. It doesn’t matter that you’re “not that good with photoshop.” You are a photographer with a gift, a lot of persistence, and a willingness to try new things. Thank you for sharing.

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