Sunsets/Sunrise Stream - Day 8 - Next Level :: Digital Photo Secrets

Sunsets/Sunrise Stream - Day 8 - Next Level

by David Peterson 0 comments

Today's Topic: Next Level

Today, I’ll show you some advanced methods for further improving your sunset images (although these techniques work with other types of photos too). We’ll look at saving your photos in RAW, creating HDR images, and Panoramas.

Main Article - Take It To The Next Level - RAW, HDR and Panoramas

Extra reading on each of the topics for today (if you have more time):

RAW Mode

Article - 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Shooting in RAW (Photography Concentrate)
Article - From JPG to RAW - the Easy Way (Christina Greve)
Article - The Benefits of RAW file format (Digital Photo Secrets)

Creating HDR

Article - What is High Dynamic Range? (Digital Photo Secrets)
Video - Taking and Processing HDR Images (Adorama) -
Article - Preserve a Saturated Sunset in your HDR Images
Article - Tips for great HDR sunsets


Article - How to take a Perfect Panoramic Photograph (Digital Photo Secrets)
Article - How To Take Panorama Photos (Photography Blog)
Gallery - 24 Outstanding Panoramas (Digital Photo Secrets)


Beginner Challenge

Panoramas allow you to capture the whole vista by combining a sequence of shots. Take a sunset cityscape shot that captures all the drama.

Upload Now

Intermediate Challenge

HDR processing allows you to combine shots of varying exposures. Challenge yourself by shooting and processing a sunset including lit streetlights in the foreground.

Upload Now

Advanced Challenge

Shoot a set of RAW files and process them to create an image of a country walk. You must include the sun, definition in the clouds and a leading line.

Upload Now

Day 5 Professional Critiques - Silhouettes

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 Ken Bergmann Went down to the beach with my wife and favorite model to do some sunset portraits. Got this silhouette - she was turning and waving her hat in the air.

Critique by professional photographer Becki Robins:

Hi Ken, very nice example of a silhouette—one of the things you always need to make sure of when you’re shooting silhouetted images is that you capture your subject in such a way that it is identifiable. The cool thing about this particular image is that I can immediately tell not only that your subject is waving a hat, but exactly what kind of hat it is because you were able to capture the light coming through the mesh fabric.

One thing you do need to be careful of with silhouettes is how some background objects can appear to be interacting with objects in the foreground—in this shot there’s a lamp post or something at your subject’s elbow. Because it is silhouetted (as she is) it appears to be growing out of her elbow. So it’s always a good idea to assess what is in the background and then take steps to eliminate anything that might be interfering with your subject. Other than that I don’t think I can fault your composition—I also really like the faint outline you have around your subject in the bottom part of the scene … it helps separate her from the background so it looks as if she’s standing in front of something rather than just rising out of the horizon. If anything I would say you could have tried changing your camera angle slightly to bring out more of that outline. Really nice work overall, looks like you had some fun capturing this!

By Jan Aubrey Silhouettes - Beginners challenge.
A silhouette shot using the theme energy. I have been driving around looking for the best compositions, for several evenings now and have decided to submit this one. Not entirely happy but I am getting behind with the subjects. Any comments welcome.

Critique by professional photographer Cameron Mitchell:

Hi Jan.

It's good that you're not satisfied with your shot in as much as it means you're aiming for better things with each shot but this one is going a long way towards what you were hoping for. You've got a good exposure overall with detail in the sky and a dark silhouette in the foreground. I also like the slight detail in the hills on the horizon as well as the soft red lens flare that makes it look as if the sun's trying to squeeze between the bushes to get to you.

Even though you've got sharp focus on your foreground silhouette you've lost a lot of sharpness because of the high level of noise caused by the high ISO you shot at. It's ok to use software to help with this shot as long as you're happy to accept that you'll get a loss of detail in some areas. That's not going to be a problem with this frame but it might be for future work.

For future shots you could shoot at a lower ISO to reduce the noise, it is difficult when the light levels are low but it's definitely something to keep in mind. My best advice for the future would be to have something to stabilise your camera with you at all times so you can keep the camera steady while you use slow shutter speeds: There's no need for it to be anything huge and unwieldly, or costly for that matter, a Gorillapod or a beanbag would give you a lot of help.

It's a good shot Jan but remember to check your cameras settings and carry something to stabilise it when necessary.


By John King Silhouette of communication mast (energy theme!) onboard Bosphorus Ferry towards sunset over the Golden Horn, Istanbul.

Critique by professional photographer Julia Harwood:

Hi John, I love the clean lines and the simplicity of this image.

The main thing we want in a silhouette is nice clean blacks. One way to achieve this is to open image in post processing and add a levels adjustment layer and then click on the black eyedropper and click on an area that is supposed to be black. This gives us a crisp black, we still see lighter areas where the sun is hitting the black, but if darkens the blacks and strengthens the composition. If you don't have a levels adjustment then try increasing the contrast.

You have a beautiful sky and the graduations in color are nice and smooth. Where the sun is we have a bit of a hotspot, if you want to tone it down a little you can. If you decrease the highlights you tend to get some banding, so a great way to achieve decreasing the highlights while still keeping a smooth sky, if you have Photoshop, is this. Open you image in PS and then add anew layer, go to the second last icon at the bottom of the layers panel to do this, and then go to edit>fill>color, now click the color eyedropper in a part of the sky close to the sun so you get a light yellow color. Click ok for the color then ok to fill. All you will see now is the light yellow color, that is okay, we haven't finished yet. So now, if you double click on the layer to the right of the layer name the blending options tool box will pop up. Make sure the blending options is highlighted on the left hand side at the top and then go down to the bottom of the middle section where it says blend if. Leave this on grey and them go to the bottom slider , called underlying layer, and move the black marker to the right to around 150, now if you hold down the alt key and click and drag on either half of the black marker it will split in two. The right side move all the way to the right and the left side leave at 150. Click ok. You will now see that the sun spot has disappeared. As we want some sun showing decrease the opacity of the layer to 25% and the highlights are brought down without any banding. This is a fairly advanced technique so don't worry if it is too much, it is a great image and you have used a fast enough shutter speed to freeze any movement from the boat and captured a nice sharp image that really fits with the challenge. Well done.

Course Materials Continue To Be Available

Do I still have access to the materials once the Dash is complete? Yes, you do. You will continue to have access to the Dash Insider site after the Dash ends which contains all the links to your course material (or you can keep the email I sent to you this month). I recommend you log into Dash Insider every now and then to look at some of the fantastic photos others have uploaded to the General area for inspiration.

More to come...

Although this is your last day for new course content, I'll still be in contact for another week to provide critiques on some of your uploaded images for Days 7 and 8.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *