What is it About Sunsets?

February 17, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

iowa, sunset, "mount vernon", "king chapel", evening, clouds, colorMount Vernon Sunset For some reason I've been attracted to sunsets for a long time (mainly because I've honestly not seen that many sunrises!), but either way, the sun does something to my senses.  Yes, the sun sheds its golden light on all things we know of, and casts some magnificent shadows, but there's something more to it I think. 

Sunsets seem to help me explore the mystical transition time, the time when things start to change...between the hustle-bustle of daylight and the more laid-back evening hours, where all sorts of things can happen.  A sunset has that certain aura that helps one transition between the two.  But it also holds secrets that are very difficult to capture and share.  There are so many variables when shooting a sunset.  The challenge for me is to bring out the color of the sky as accurately as possible.  Have you ever had your breath taken away or stared in awe at a sunset?  It's that moment of beauty and wonderment that is so elusive to capture.

Typically, one or two stops below normal exposure seems to really bring out the rich, deep colors of a sunset.  Unfortunately, underexposing that much tends to make everything but the sky a silhouette, which is fine in some cases, but terrible in others.  The photo here did exactly that.  King Chapel in the distance is dark and outlined while the sky has all the dreamy colors one would expect from a sunset - pretty much everything in the spectrum to some extent.  In this case it works, but if there's something interesting in the foreground, what then?

That's a difficult situation.  I handle it by blending two photos together...one with a properly exposed sky and one with a properly exposed foreground.  In the film days that was not possible, so what did the masters do?  I don't know.  That will take some research.  But in the digital world, blending two or more photos together, taking the best of each, seems to be the easiest for me. 

Sunsets are truly a gift.  Depending on where you are, who you're with, what you're doing or what your state of mind is, a sunset can  totally mesmerize, inspire, infuse, or energize you, or, turn you introspective, contemplative, appreciative or otherwise tap into your inner being.  The challenge is capturing that moment for all to see!


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