Digital Photo Academy

Learn How To Use Your Digital Camera

Exposing for Sunset


© John Bentham

When shooting sunsets it’s often very difficult to get a correct exposure. You’re shooting into a light source thus the camera meter is fooled info stopping down the exposure, rendering the sky/sun correct, saturated and with the correct density but the foreground (water or landscape) is much too dark. In many situations you can’t successfully use an HDR composite process because the water is moving or the leaves are blowing in the wind. But you can do an old fashioned cut and paste of two exposures.


© John Bentham

This photo was pasted together of one dark and one light exposure giving a correct exposure over all. The dual image shows the two original exposures, overexposed is on top (for water exposure), underexposed is on the bottom (for good sky exposure). Remember to shoot a bracket to cover yourself with much darker and lighter frames. Shoot this on manual setting to capture a correct sequence of brackets, alternatively you can use the auto bracket setting in your DSLR. Then you simply choose the correct exposure for the foreground and another for the sky and paste them together in Photoshop. Tip: It helps to have a relatively clean horizon when doing the paste and you should shoot the bracket using a tripod or at the very least rest the camera on something so it won’t move during your bracket.
John Bentham


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