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Shawn Mahan's picture

San Felice - Sunset

Although I brought my tripod, I didn't rip out to try and catch this great sunset as I barely got back to our hotel in time to take these shots. The first is HDR, I think I used 4 of the 5 exposures to merge. The second is just an edited version of the first exposure.

Shooting into the sun is pretty tough. I don't think I have a good technique down. Sometimes I just try single exposures, usually using aperture priority with a negative exposure compensation. Sometimes I try to snap a few bracketed shots. This was a non-stabilized lens, so bracketing is not the best option when you don't have it on a tripod.

Curious, how do you guys set up for shots into the sun, and for this discussion I would say for sunrise or sunset. I take a different approach during the day (ie block the sun and go for a sunstar). And, as always, I appreciate your feedback on the shots.

Edit: Added re-edit of 2nd picture.

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Chris Jablonski's picture

Hi Shawn! A beautiful, tranquil image with gorgeous colours, especially the soft glow in the vines, in addition to the Turneresque sky. Sadly, I can't help with your main question, but since you ask, can see a few tweaks in general.

Firstly, I'd have been tempted to put the sun a little further off centre, probably to the right by swinging left, as there is a little more cloud interest there.I

Secondly, I think you could make more of the glow in the vines, as the foreground is a little hard to discern (my monitor is bright, if anything).

Finally, the sky is dark in the very left corner. I know you've left a vignette, but I wonder if you've cropped, making it asymmetrical. (I could be quite wrong, as the sky may not have been even-toned.) I like vignettes, but usually even out lens vignetting, definitely so if I'm cropping, and add what I want at the very end. The vignette here I find somehow a bit distracting. Here's an edit trying to incorporate the tonal changes (minor cloning out distractions at the bottom).

Shawn Mahan's picture

Chris, thanks for the feedback. You have a good eye. I forgot to use lens correction and that leaves a pretty heavy vignette. I didn't crop side to side, but in the second picture I did crop up from the bottom a little.

I agree, vines are really dark. I was hoping I would get more pop using an HDR merge, but I think I like the original photo. I tried remerging the bracketed shots, but I think there is just too much ghosting in the picture.

When I framed the picture, I was hoping the house on the left would be more prevalent. I have just left it in the shadows on the re-edit. I might have gone a bit too far on the vines though.

Chris Jablonski's picture

The tricky part is maintaining a realistic-looking tonal gradient between foreground & horizon, considering where the light is coming from. To my eye, the scene now has less of that evening feel, and there is an odd-looking transition to darkness just below the horizon, with a halo just above the distant ridge. The overall feel of the image is better, though, Shawn. Tricky stuff! And all a matter of taste, anyway.

On reflection, that top left corner is the furthest bit of sky from the sun, which is significant with your wide-angle lens, so it probably was darker. I'd still even it a bit, till it looks right to my eye. I'm not a purist in this, as people will judge the image simply on what they see.

I'd leave the significant barrel distortion uncorrected. It marginally improves the composition, "scooping" the eye into the centre, for me.

I'm saying all this because the image is worth it, and worth finessing, Shawn! It's not as if I think you've done a bad job. Quite the contrary. Your posts are interesting.

Shawn Mahan's picture

Chris, I always appreciate you detailed critiques. I actually think the upper left is darker because of the cloud cover that is more prevalent on the right. The sun is reflecting off of them, but id make it distracting.