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Need Help Processing Sunset Images

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3 years 6 months ago #4569 by Gabe
Back again and need your help.
I went out to grab some sunset images the other day and was really excited to the final images...post processed. After bringing them into LR, I was disappointed to find that even after processing, the images felt....flat. Knowing the dynamic range, I did try HDR as well with similar results. I cant seem to get the image anywhere near to what I saw with my eyes.

So Im wondering if you guys have any tips on post processing? I will post an image for you to tinker with once I find a decent image.

Thanks in advance.

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3 years 6 months ago #4571 by Conor Casey
Hi Gabe,

I shoot a lot of landscapes at sunset so I can try and offer you some advise as to what I do with most sunsets. It would be great if we could see the image/scene, not necessarily a raw file, but maybe an unprocessed file and then your best finished jpg? If you want to share the raw file, all the better but it's your raw file to do with what you choose.

All photos are unique and different but with sunsets, I often end up doing similar global processes on most. I begin in Camera Raw but you can find the same settings in Lightroom. For every image, I always enable the profile corrections which corrects any distortion or faults in the lens. I then remove any CA that might have been in the image. If there is a horizon in the photograph, I will straighten it with the straighten tool.

For the white-balance, I would first see what daylight looks like, then cloudy and then shade and usually end up selecting from these present and then fine tuning from there. The key with the WB on sunsets is that the sky is warm and you have all of those lovely reds and oranges popping out.

I then open up the shadows and bring down the highlights until I have sufficient detail and usually until the histogram has moved more into the middle. Then I will adjust the whites and blacks to establish some contrast in the photo; this will push the histogram back out to the corners again.

I usually then increase the vibrance to bring out some more colour; I prefer vibrance to saturation as I often find the latter to be too heavy handed. I'll also increase the contrast and clarity to taste.

Finally in Camera Raw, I will add in a graduated filter of an appropriate minus value to darken the sky if required. I may also add in an ND Grad with a warm white-balance value and red tint to increase the punch of the sky, although this is sometimes not needed; it depends upon the photo. If the foreground is still too dark, I will add in another ND Grad with a plus exposure value to brighten it. If this needs to be done to a selective part of the photo, the same can be done with the adjustment brush.

That's usually it, I may dodge and burn with the brush if needed but that depends on the photo. I think it would be a tremendous help if we could see the image as I can only go so far and tell you so much without seeing the actual file.

Hope I helped. :)

Conor Casey
Flickr

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3 years 6 months ago #4573 by Gabe
Thanks Conor. I tried to attach the RAW and DNG but I guess the file was too large. Below is the TIF file. Ive tried the steps you outlined but still not satisfied. Ive tried adjustment brushes to tweak parts of the image but still cant get it close. Surprisingly, my phone a image closer to what the scene really looked like. i will try to upload that image once I figure how to pull it from my phone.


La Jolla Sunset by moreno1024 , on Flickr
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3 years 6 months ago #4581 by Conor Casey
It looks good to me Gabe, if a little under-saturated, although I think it is a nice subtle colour; I like it anyway.

What exactly are you hoping to achieve in the final image? Or what does your final vision have that the post above does not?

Thanks for posting the file btw. :)

Conor Casey
Flickr

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3 years 6 months ago - 3 years 6 months ago #4582 by Gabe
Here is a photo I took with my phone. This is more of what I can remember the scene looking like (of course now that I see it on the big screen, its not that great). I guess what Im trying to get at is, I remember the colors differently then what I was able to produce in post process. The clouds were more of a light to dark grey, not purple as in the photo. They also had more detail (contrast?) between the light and dark spots. The visible sky had more of a punch, not the muted color as in the photo. The water I can deal with but again, I remember it a little lighter and not so under exposed.

Thanks for the help Conor. Think Ill keep messing with the file until Im satisfied.


Untitled by moreno1024 , on Flickr
Last Edit: 3 years 6 months ago by Gabe.

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3 years 6 months ago #4595 by jerry
Something I like to do to enhance color for sunsets any is I like to under expose the shot some, Colors seem to become more vibrant.
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3 years 5 months ago #4748 by Conor Casey
Don't know why but I missed your post for some reason Jerry. :(

Under-exposure will help here I think. Thanks for the tip. ;) The other solution Gabe is just to shoot the scene again on an evening where the sunset is more dramatic; the ultimate plight of the keen landscape photographer, I know, but sometimes it's the only solution.

Did you eventually get this shot the way you wanted Gabe? :)

Conor Casey
Flickr

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3 years 5 months ago #4749 by Gabe
Unfortunately I did not. I tried a few processing tricks, but couldnt get it anywhere close to what I was hoping for. I typically shoot for HDR just in case but for some reason I failed to do so on this trip.

Here on the coast of California, we dont get many dramatic clouds. We usually get a thick marine layer or clear skies. Makes for a pretty boring sunset. Im going to try a ND Grad filter on the next trip. We'll see how it turns out

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3 years 5 months ago - 3 years 5 months ago #4752 by Bill
Gabe to get what your looking for I would try to use a graduated filter. Once you have the filter in place, increase the exposure of the sky and maybe add brightness or contrast. Once you have the sky to you liking I would go after the water in the same manor. Alternatively you could mask out the parts of the sunset you want to keep under exposed and the bring the exposure up on the rest of the image. Let us know how this works out for you.
Last Edit: 3 years 5 months ago by Bill.

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2 years 10 months ago #5728 by Gabe
Thoughts? Opinions? This is an HDR Pano (5 exposures x 6 images). This is by far one of my favorites but it looks like there was a stitching or blending issue on the left side. I may try a single exposure pano just to see how it turns out.


House on the Rocks by moreno1024 , on Flickr

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2 years 10 months ago #5729 by Gregory Cazillo
This image seems oversharpened to me. I don't see any issues in this low res version can you point out the spot you are talking about?

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2 years 10 months ago #5730 by Gabe
Thanks Greg. I definitely see the over sharpen now that I processed the single exposure image (will post when I get home for comparison). To me, the clouds on the left (just to the right of the house) didnt stitch correctly. They seem to shift upwards but that could be a trick of the eyes

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