Sunsets/Sunrise Stream - Day 4 - Bracketing :: Digital Photo Secrets

Sunsets/Sunrise Stream - Day 4 - Bracketing

by David Peterson 0 comments

Today's Topic: Bracketing

Your camera’s light meter works fine for regular photos, but does not work so well when photographing sunsets. There is a large ball of very bright light in the image that the camera doesn’t quite know what to do with. So it’s useful to bracket your sunset images to make sure your image is not too dark or too bright.

Main Article - Bracketing

Extra reading (if you have more time):

Article - What is Exposure Bracketing? (Digital Photo Secrets)
Article - How to Bracket without Auto-Bracketing (Digital Photo Secrets)
Article - Exposure Bracketing: how to do it manually and how your AEB can help (Digital Camera World)
Article - Bracketing Exposures (Geoff Lawrence)
Article - Exposure Bracketing (All Things Photography)
Article - What Is... Exposure Bracketing (Photoxels)
Article - Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) Explained (Alex Wise)


Beginner Challenge

Taking a set of bracketed images is a useful tool to prevent unwanted silhouettes by allowing you greater choice when choosing which shots to keep. Compose and take a set of bracketed shots of an animal appearing to watch the sunset. Choose the best one to upload.

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Intermediate Challenge

Often the subject of the photo is a sunset, step away from this and add interest to the foreground by adding your own props.

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Advanced Challenge

Often you want to include the sun in your frame but it's too bright and the risk of losing detail means your only option is to bracket and combine a number of exposures. Take a sunset shot that includes the sun, vibrant colors and perfect components from day 2.

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Day 1 Professional Critiques - Sunset Photography Basics

As part of the Dash, I'll be providing feedback on your photos by selecting three images per topic per stream and asking my pro photographers (who critique the images for Dash Assist) to provide some feedback. Over the entire Dash you'll see pro reviews of 24 photos. I'll be selecting some great images, and some not-so-great photos, so you can see why the great ones look great, and how to improve the rest.

How do you get YOUR image selected? Upload your image to Dash Insider within 3 days of the topic being released and I'll see it when I'm selecting the images to critique.

By Gail Campbell Clouds reflect the setting sun adding interest to your shot. Photograph a solitary tree at sunset using the clouds to make the picture wow. We just haven't had any good sunsets here in Indiana.

Critique by professional photographer Cameron Mitchell:

Hi Gail.

I'm not sure about you having no suitable or good sunsets in Indiana; you've got a grand shot here with the tree dominating the scene as the sun sets to give the sky and the clouds the colours you needed for the background.

You set your camera well with a low ISO and kept the aperture wide enough to let you shoot at a comfortable and safe shutter speed so it's a crisp enough shot showing plenty of detail.

Where you could have picked the shot up a bit is with the composition: Keeping the sun in the frame is necessary, it helps lighten the feel of the shot and without it you'll end up with a frame that looks dismal. At the top of the frame though you're running into problems, chopping the top off the tree really doesn't work. Your two options are either a wider scene or a different orientation to the frame. Although you could have pulled back with your lens and shot with a shorter focal length that might have meant adding in a lot of unwanted distraction to the sides of the frame so a better option is a portrait format. With the camera rotated you could try to position both the tree and the sun in better positions within the frame. If there's anything interesting to add to as a silhouette lower down then that's a bonus but if all else fails you'll have the sun and the tree top in the frame so all will be well.

I love the colours Gail, you've done a great job of making the most of them as well as catching a good silhouette.


By Kay Smith Day 1 Beginner Challenge: Use a road or stream as a leading line to draw the eye to the setting sun. I had to wait all week for a sunset - last night I got one although it wasn't the best sunset I've seen I didn't want to wait any longer!

Critique by professional photographer Becki Robins:

Hi Kay! Your sky is lovely, there's so much beautiful texture and the bright orange spot just above the horizon really draws the eye. You have a lot of other great elements in the scene too ... Both the road and the fence combine to create a nice vanishing point and a sense of three dimensions. Unfortunately though, all those details are a little lost because the land itself is really dark. This is actually a difficult shooting situation because what you have is a scene with too much dynamic range: if you expose for the sky you get a dark foreground, and if you expose for the foreground you get a sky that's way too bright and doesn't have all of that lovely detail in it. So there are a couple of things that you could do to help--one, if you shoot in raw you'll capture more levels of brightness and you'll hopefully be able to make some adjustments in post to bring out more detail in the foreground. Or you could try creating an HDR image--shoot three versions (underexposed, overexposed, and in the middle) and then combine them in post, or you could invest in a graduated neutral density filter, which has a dark part and a light part and a gradual transition in between. If you place the dark part over the sky then you can get a better exposure on each part of the scene.

I can't fault your composition at all, you did a really nice job on that--orienting the road so that the vanishing point is right under the sun was a great move, it really helps the scene feel big and three dimensional. Overall a nice shot.

By Karen Casey Sunset Day 1-- This photo was taken after a thunderstorm on a back road in Upstate New York.

Critique by professional photographer Julia Harwood:

Hi Karen, I love this shot. I love landscapes and this is a beautiful one. I love the strong leading line of the road and the implied vanishing points that leads us through the forest.The great mist on the blue hills and the fantastic cloud formations really top the image off. The only thing I would mention to watch out for, is that you have a large enough depth of field to keep as much in focus as possible. Traditionally we would try for at least f8 and even higher if you can. Here you have been limited by the light and an already high ISO. The beauty of landscapes is that you can use a tripod and use a longer shutter speed and a a higher f stop which will give you a greater depth of field and a low ISO which will give you a sharper image.

I love the image and you have done a good job of processing it. The only thing I might do is add a bit more contrast. You can use the contrast slider if your software has one or use the levels adjustment and move the middle marker under the histogram to the right a little. This helps to make the clouds more three dimensional. You have created great depth with all the layers and the colors work great together. A great image, you should be very proud of.

Well done.

What's Next?

I'll send your next topic "Silhouettes" on 16 August.


Are you overwhelmed with all this new content I'm sending you? Don't be! You don't need to complete everything right away. To break things down into manageable chunks, I've written a checklist showing you what to do each day, and what you can skip.

General Information

For more general information about the Dash, see the Getting Started document.

Dash Insider

If you haven't done so already, I recommend you get involved with Dash Insider - our private community. See your email for the password to access this system, and I have created a few videos showing you how to login and navigate the site.

How to Upload Your Photo

See the third video on the Dash Insider Login Tutorials page for a rundown on how to upload.

Receiving A Great Critique

See the separate post on giving and receiving feedback for help on soliciting great feedback on your images.

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