Birdhouse Sunset

August 10, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

We visited Denise's mom for a weekend not too long ago. As evening approached, I kept an eye on the western sky wondering if there might be a nice sunset. There were some thin clouds in the west that made me think something special might happen. I set up my camera and tripod well ahead of sunset time. Since there are trees on the west side of the farm, I knew I wouldn't actually see the sun set, but I was hoping the sun would light up the clouds during the twilight period.

As time went on, the thin clouds disappeared as I waited. I continued to wait as a narrow band of clouds drifted into the scene. And I waited. And waited. It looked as though the original composition I had planned just wasn't going to work. Then, the narrow cloud band that was originally in my preferred composition started to light up. Unfortunately, the part of the clouds that were lighting up the most was not in my vertical composition. I changed the orientation of my camera, refocused, and made exposures for the sky and the ground, knowing I would have to combine them in post-processing.

As much of a bummer as it was to not get the composition I was hoping for, I do like the image I made.




If you are wondering why I had to take two exposures and combine them in post-processing, it's because cameras such as mine can't take a picture such as this without the foreground being very dark or the sky being too bright. The "dynamic range" of many cameras isn't as great as our eyes, so just after sunset, when we can still see objects like the ground just fine, the relatively bright sky overpowers the camera and the ground turns out darker than it appears to us. If I had taken a picture without the sky in it, the camera would have been able to expose the picture just fine. Knowing this, I made an adjustment in the camera to brighten the ground so it looked like what I saw, and I took a picture. I then made an adjustment in the other direction to make the sky look like what I saw, and I took another picture. When I got home, I combined the two in software to get a realistic image, like you see above.


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