The Sunset I Saw

Often times when we are out taking photos the results we get in our cameras aren’t as vivid as we remember them.  It starts out when we look at the tiny LCD display on the back and seems to get worse when we download the images. It is critical to remember that your eyes have much better dynamic range than any camera yet available.  This is one of the reasons that proper use of HDR can bring out details in the shadows that otherwise are obscured.  This blog is NOT about HDR.  We are going to just examine some of the other things that we can do in Lightroom to make the picture match our memory.

Starting with the Camera Calibration panel, you can set a baseline for how your RAW image is displayed by selecting a Profile appropriate for your image. Your camera is already doing this for you in the viewfinder as it converts your data into a .jpg for display.

Portrait mode helps keep skin tones flatter, while the landscape mode enhances the greens.  Camera Standard actually knows what kind of camera you are shooting and sets it accordingly.  I prefer Adobe standard normally, but for this image the Camera version looked better.

Next, sunrises and sunsets, have lots of shadows. If they are too dark they will not print effectively, so you can adjust the slider to just bring the histogram out of the white triangle range.

Continuing in the Presence panel, the Vibrance and Saturation controls make universal adjustments.  You can make bigger changes to Vibrance as it impacts the midtowns only than you can with the Saturation slider.  It quickly makes your picture appear bandy and weird looking.

Finally, down in the HSL/Color/B&W panel you can carefully target specific colors which you want to enhance or reduce.

The After image looks much more like that lovely setting sun over the Northern Neck of VA.

The Sun Sets on the Greece Vacation

Well, I’m finally coming to the last topic from the last magical spot on my trip.  Santorini sits perched on the cliff top remains of the volcano that exploded some 3600 years ago, wiping out most of the civilizations in the Eastern Med.  The buildings literally are built down the walls of the caldera. Our hotel was somewhere in the center of this photo.  My room was 5 stories down from the entrance.  I got to climb a lot of irregular stone steps.  Everywhere you go is up hill--impossible but true.  Elevators are illegal on the island, but good calves are standard issue.  It is very famous for the beautiful blue and white churches and the spectacular sunsets.  Aside from the Acropolis these churches are the most commonly photographed symbols of the idyllic trip to the islands. We were very fortunate in staying there for 3 nights.  The cruise ships would come in for a few hours and the tourists would flood through the streets and then they would have to ride down the hairpin turns and take the boats back to the ships and get underway.   Of course they make a nice background for the restaurant next door to our hotel.   Everywhere you looked, sculpture and art were out on public display.

Shooting at sunset really requires a tripod, or a wall to get the full range of colors.  It was pretty hazy while we were there and our sunset colors were pretty muted.  I want to apply for the position of official sunset photographer in Santorini. 

The barrel roofed churches provide good structural protection against the many earthquakes that still shake the island.  Often when shooting sunset, just waiting a few minutes can really change the mood of the image as the light changes hue.  Moving a few feet left or right also can help you frame the pictures that you like.  I shot a sequence of 45 pictures in 20 minutes and these two are the ones that spoke to me.   That is an important part of shooting travel shots, always move around, to change the angles and shoot lots of pictures. 

Don’t forget to turn around often.  Sometimes there are great shots where you just walked past.

Well that’s all the light, so the sun will set peacefully on the Aegean Sea.  You don’t have to go that far to capture the light; it’s all around, just take your camera and find it.