Shooting sunsets - Need tips

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by ChrisF79, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. ChrisF79

    ChrisF79 TPF Noob!

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    Greetings:

    I took my camera to the beach a couple of days ago after reading "Understanding Exposure" and decided to try shooting the sunset. I didn't have a lot of luck. The sky was this beautiful gradient from orange at the horizon to blue/purple at the top. Unfortunately, i wasn't able to capture that with my D80. How do you normally shoot sunsets? I tried metering to the left of the sun itself and then focusing on the sun to have it front and center in my shots. Most of my pictures have the sky looking very dark or the exact opposite. The sky is washed out and overexposed.

    When shooting this type of shot, do you normally meter next to the sun and then set the shutter speed to get the water right and adjust the aperture accordingly? When I try to do this, the shutter speed requires an aperture much higher than what my camera will do.

    I'm lost and would appreciate any general tips that will help me.

    Thanks!
     
  2. solrac8126

    solrac8126 TPF Noob!

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    can you post some pictures?
     
  3. ChrisF79

    ChrisF79 TPF Noob!

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    I'm at work right now but check back later and I'll put an example up.
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I would suggest using Av mode, that way, the camera can 'suggest' a shutter speed rather than a aperture.

    There is no 'right way' to shoot a sunset.

    I would suggest that you take a bunch of shots at different exposure values...and just see what works. This can be a little confusing if you are trying to meter off of a specific area...so I suggest that you shoot in manual mode. Do something to get your starting point (meter off of the sky without sun). Plug in those values and (in manual mode) and go from there.

    Normally, less exposure will bring out the colors in the sky/sun...and more exposure will wash out the brighter areas but give you some detail in the shadows.

    Keep in mind that you can't get both in a single exposure. If you expose for the bright areas, the dark areas will be very dark. If you try to expose for the darker areas, the sun & sky will start to blow out.
     
  5. Yahoozy

    Yahoozy TPF Noob!

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    i agree with Mike =P
    generally u want to shoot f11 or higherso u get nice overall focus and let the camera set its own shutter
    you will need to use a tripod for this though, because the camera will probably choose a somewhat longer shutter depending on the light
     
  6. NYPhotographer

    NYPhotographer TPF Noob!

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    I always stop down the exposure.
    Sometimes -2





    For this one I don't really know if I stopped down enough
    but I remember that since I shot RAW in photoshop I was
    able to bring it lower.
    (Sorry for the quality it's from facebook,
    the good one is in my blog)

    [​IMG]
     
  7. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    One thing to keep in mind is that your eye sees light differently than your camera does, especially at sunset (since the sun is "really" already completely down by the time the sun hits the horizon... what you are seeing is light rays that are bent around the earth, an optical illusion of sorts).

    Sunlight is white, and as it enters the atmosphere, the several of the bandwidths get reflected/refracted around... for example, the blue gets caught in the atmosphere (which is why the sky is blue, by the way) but towards evening as the sun travels through more of the atmosphere, this effect becomes even more pronounced... the blue light basically "skips off" and the yellows and reds are collected by particles in the atmosphere.

    The differing amount of particles is what causes every day to have a different color or light... the whiter it is, the cleaner the sky.

    The reason you see details on the ground that are plain to you but black to your camera is that your eye is vastly, unimaginably better than your camera's sensor at seeing.

    While this won't help you take better pictures, it is kinda cool :)
     
  8. solrac8126

    solrac8126 TPF Noob!

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    well i guess it depends where you set the exposure, you can try on the brightest spot maybe?

    and also depends what you want to take... i have a friend who says , a photograph is the process of know something, (or something like that ) hehe
    what he means is that if you know at the moment you take the picture m what you want to achieve and you take that then it's good for you, because you did have what you wanted. It may not look good to others, because at least on my experience when i look at other pictures i tend to look the technical aspect first and then the artistic one i guess ,
    you try to see the composition , the light , etc and then! the artistic part, or what the photographer wanted to tell...
     
  9. ChrisF79

    ChrisF79 TPF Noob!

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    Here are some of the pictures I took the other day. Sadly, these are my best 4 (out of about 100 that I took).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. ChrisF79

    ChrisF79 TPF Noob!

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    I should also point out that I had a circular polarizer when I was shooting but again, I have no idea how to use it. I spin it and everything looks the same to me through the viewfinder.
     
  11. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    I really like the first one! That's a great shot!! Crank up the colors on that just a bit with some post-processing and it'll jump off the page. Definitely worthy of an enlargement there! :) Heck, even without any post processing it still looks great.


    For best results in sunrise/sunset type photos, you need at least a 2-stop graduated neutral density filter (grad ND for short). Even better would be a 3-stop. The filters are shaded on one half and clear on the bottom half. What it does is it reels in the total dynamic range of the photo so that your sensor (or even film) can capture it a lot better. You can kinda use a CP filter as a grad ND, but an actual grad ND is better.

    Here's two of my personal favorites from a Virginia Beach sunrise.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    I used a 2-stop grad ND filter on that to lower the total dynamic range into something more reasonable that the sensor could actually capture, and then a nother 2-stop non-grad regular ND filter underneath that one to slow down the exposure a little bit more so that I could use a slower shutter speed and get some more wave motion. I was on a tripod using the ML-L3 wireless shutter release for my D80. Cheapo 18-55 kit lens, and then post-processing in DxO software. They came off the camera looking a bit drabby, but livened right up with a little work.


    Another personal favorite with a similar setup. D80, 18-55 kit lens, tripod, 81A warming filter, and then a 2-stop grad ND on top of that. Without the grad ND, the building line was completely dark and not recoverable in the JPEGs. The 2-stop grad ND kept them just in the exposure enough that I could reel in the shadow areas. 3-stop woulda been better though.

    [​IMG]



    A grad ND filter is a must-have for great sunrise/sunset photos.
     
  12. ChrisF79

    ChrisF79 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the tips Mav! Your pictures are beautiful. I didn't get the range of color that I wanted in mine and your pictures (and explanation) are just what I was looking for. Thanks!
     

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