Sunset at Cottesloe Beach

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This topic contains 18 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Ezra Morley 2 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #17406

    Joshua Ong
    Participant

    Some of you may recall that I posted a few sunset pictures on the forum several months ago. Although I do not specialise specifically in sunset photography, I do enjoy taking snapshots of spectacular sunsets especially where a myriad of colours or the rays of the sun are clearly visible to the naked eye. Here’s a picture I took at a beach in Cottesloe in late spring 2011 (Can anyone guess the month?). I’m just trying to find ways to improve my sunset photography. Any comments or suggestions?

    Below are the specs of the picture:
    Panasonic DMC-FZ30
    2938 x 2204 pixels
    f/5.6
    1/320 sec.
    ISO 80

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    #17408

    David Frazer
    Participant

    The month… spring in Australia would be September to November, but I cheated and looked at the exif data… November 12, 2011 at 6:40 PM, assuming the camera was adjusted right.

    I definitely understand your desire to capture the beauty of a sunset – I have often seen beautiful sunsets, snapped a few pictures only to find out that the camera didn’t capture all that I saw. Here are a few pointers that might help:

    1) FIND A SUBJECT. The beauty of the sunset often distracts us and we turn it into the subject. Unfortunately the overall picture ends up looking rather boring.

    Something with a shape to it in the foreground would really help. Of course, the subjects you are most likely to find on a beach are probably not what you want to photograph, for modesty’s sake. But a little creativity could help – try a sand castle, an umbrella, a tree, a building, Rottnest Island – anything that breaks up that two-stripe look.

    Another way of adding a subject would be to zoom in on that boat.

    2) DON’T PUT THE HORIZON IN THE MIDDLE. You did well to put the horizon slightly below the centre, but I would like to see it a bit farther off-centre. I included a crop of your photo to illustrate this.

    3) STAY LONGER. Assuming you can, of course. The sun set at 18:51 that day, so if you had stayed a little longer you could have kept taking pictures. Often the best pictures are a few minutes after sunset. If the weather worked out right, you could have tried a photo of the sun half way into the Indian Ocean.

    4) TRY HDR. If you are shooting before the sun is actually set, you can do some exposure bracketing and compile them with a program like Photomatix to extend the range of your camera’s sensor and create a dynamic HDR photo.

    5) ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR LENS AND SENSOR ARE CLEAN. This is true any time, but when you point your camera right into the sun, that little bit of dust is going to get ten times worse.

    6) DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY THE SUNSET. Not a photography tip, just a good idea. 🙂

    Attachments:
    #17442

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Excellent tips @dfrazer! And gorgeous sunset, @joshua_ong!

    My initial impression too was to zoom in on the color! The metadata shows the focal length at about 15mm so I think you should have been able to zoom in no problem.

    #17462

    Joshua Ong
    Participant

    Thanks @dfrazer for the useful pointers. I will try to keep them in mind the next time I shoot sunsets. Your recommendation to place the sun in the off-centre of the picture reminded me of one of James’s sunset shots in Baja California that he allowed for a free wallpaper download. With regards to HDR, I downloaded the trial version of Photomatix Pro just to see the functions of this particular photo-editing software. I did not batch any bracketed photos, but I tried some of the preset photo styles available in tone mapping. Some of the underexposed details in my pictures really did come to life. I’ve enclosed a previously posted picture that I recently edited with Photomatix. Because I was using the trial version, Photomatix actually watermarked my picture. You can compare it with the original in https://www.lenspiration.com/forums/topic/cityscape/.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by  Joshua Ong.
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    #17465

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Nice job with the HDR! As you may already know, it’s very easy to overdo it with HDR and make un-realistic looking images. Yours looks perfectly realistic.

    If you’re not ready to spend money on HDR software, there a few free options you might try. Probably the easiest to use is Google Nik Collection’s HDR Efex Pro. You can download the NIK collection here: https://www.google.com/nikcollection/

    Another open-source option is Luminance HDR: http://qtpfsgui.sourceforge.net/ It’s much more complicated, and very hard to get natural looking results from. YMMV

    #17487

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Yes, that shot has been well processed.

    #17605

    Joshua Ong
    Participant

    This was the first time that I used HDR software to achieve a higher-quality picture. I’m glad it was well-processed. Thanks Ezra Morley for recommending Google’s Nik Collection. I didn’t know that it had multiple editing programs with a variety of functions and styles. It was exactly what I needed for editing my pictures. I did have some questions, though. What’s the difference between the Nik Collection and Adobe’s Lightroom? Does LR offer more options?

    #17615

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    What’s the difference between the Nik Collection and Adobe’s Lightroom? Does LR offer more options?

    Lightroom is a full-blown RAW converter and photo editor. The Nik Collection does not accept RAW files, it only takes JPG or TIFF files. So if you shoot RAW, you’ll need some way of converting your RAW files to TIF before the NIK Collection can do anything to them. The Nik Collection is intended to be used as plugins for other software, like Photoshop or Lightroom. When you use one of the NIK plugins in Lightroom for example, Lightroom converts the RAW to a 16-bit TIF file, and sends it to the plugin. Once you’re done editing there, and hit save, it re-imports back into Lightroom with all of your changes.

    Yes, Lightroom offers more options.

    • RAW conversion
    • Exposure tools
    • Sharpening
    • Noise Reduction
    • Local Edits with brushes
    • HDR (in the latest version!)

    I do probably 95% of my editing in Lightroom 5. Lightroom 6 supports automatic HDR creation from RAW bracketed shots. Once it creates it, you can edit the HDR just like any other RAW file.

    #17678

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    According to this tutorial, is it true that versions of LR as far back as 4.1 could provide HDR options? http://lightroomkillertips.com/lightroom-video-a-new-hdr-feature-in-lightroom-4-1/

    #17687

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    @jamesstaddon, what that article is talking about is the ability of Lightroom 4.1 and beyond to edit 32-bit HDR files from Photoshop’s HDR merge function. (i.e. You merge the exposures in Photoshop, then send the merged 32-bit file to Lightroom for editing)

    Lightroom 6 took it a step beyond that, and put the HDR merge function right into Lightroom as well, so that you don’t have to own Photoshop to merge bracketed exposures into an HDR image.

    #17715

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Ah, I was just thinking of a way for @frazer-family to do their HDR merging automatically. @frazer-family, you guys don’t have PS, right? @buddingphotographer, is there a free program that they could use to create a 32-bit file that merges their HDR brackets?

    #17756

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator
    #17764

    Frazer Family
    Participant

    No, James, we don’t have PS. Actually, yes we do: PS Elements. I’ve never really used it, only glanced at it briefly, and being of the impression that Corel Photo Paint had more capacities, I didn’t bother trying to learn it.

    I haven’t had time to look at buddingphotographer’s suggestions… 🙁 But hopefully I will one of these days! Thanks.

    #17776

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    @frazer-family, what version of PS Elements do you have?

    #17784

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Very good! (It might be fun to do a comparison between the two programs…) 🙂

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