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Keep Shooting! Photography Assignments (04 Feb 2013)
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Need Help Processing Sunset Images
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.
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.
La Jolla Sunset by moreno1024 , on Flickr
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.
Thanks for the help Conor. Think Ill keep messing with the file until Im satisfied.
Untitled by moreno1024 , on Flickr
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?
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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