My best shot at sunset photography, comments please.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Aflatminer, Jul 15, 2010.

  1. Aflatminer macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    These are a couple of photos that I took on the 4th of July at a local pond.I'm curious to know what you guys think. Be gentle, it's my first time haha.

    These were shot on a Canon T1i with the 50mm f/1.8 II.


  2. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    You know... for a first time - they're actually pretty good. I think sunset shots have all been done, but those are 1st rate. Nicely done. :)

    If I had one quibble, its the shot with the boat. It would have been nice if the boat had been on a 3rds line, using the expanse of water as the frame, or better yet the junction of 3rds lines. And yes, I know you did not have control over the boat, etc etc.... but that is the difference between great shots and really good shots....
  3. Aflatminer thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    Thanks for the compliments. Yeah I know sunsets are cliche but I figured it would be good exposure practice for a beginner and honestly, I couldn't not take pictures of that sky ;). As for the composition, the photo with the boat is actually cropped as I didn't spot some nearby trees in the viewfinder, not that it really changes all that much.

    Here is the original, uncropped and unstraightened :rolleyes: version...


    The images on my HD are actually much sharper, iPhoto only gave me the option to upload "web" sized versions to flickr so they went a little soft when I blew them up a bit before pasting the url (I am new to posting, converting photos, and using Macs haha).

    But again, thanks for the kind review, its nice to get a few keepers this early in the game, it keeps me going.
  4. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    I'm never quite sure what this means. When I experience a beautiful sunset, I don't feel it's a cliché... I feel lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

    Sunsets need a bit of forward planning, IMO, just like any other kind of landscape pix. In the pix you posted, the colour in the sky - and the reflections in the water - are the picture. There's nothing else in the picture that holds the attention. Maybe this is the problem: you need to find a location that would hold some visual interest even if there wasn't a sunset.

    This shot, for example, is similar to yours, but the lighthouse 'anchors' the picture as a particular place, and gives the eye somewhere to 'land'.

  5. luminosity macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    iPhoto? Kill it! Quickly!

    Seriously, before you get too into photography, switch to Lightroom or Aperture.

    Good shots :).
  6. RobLS macrumors member

    Aug 30, 2008
    I think the anchor things works. I took a series of pics while at Hawaii for the first time. And they were my first sunset pics ever. The one I kept going back to over and over was this one.

  7. Kollis macrumors newbie


    Jun 5, 2010
    Flaming good sunsets!

    Gimp (free) is a Good Enough program for cropping and scaling. Besides under "Colors" menu there is a choice of "Levels" that is pretty good for easy adjustments of toning.

    Keep on! :cool:
  8. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    Yeah, the thing about sunsets is that by the time they reach the point of maximum drama, everything that isn't sky gets reduced to a silhouette. That silhouette needs to be really interesting and 'descriptive'--downright iconic, even. The shots posted in this thread by Doylem and RobLS are great examples of iconic silhouettes. Doylem's shot is "about" the lighthouse, and the viewer can read into it all of the metaphors associated with such a structure. RobLS's shot is "about" the sailboat, giving the viewer plenty to contemplate about the experience of sailing or about the metaphors associated with that activity.

    The problem of the missing "subject" is common in a lot of landscape shots, not just those that show sunsets. People very often enjoy the experience of being in a place and have trouble packaging that experience in a successful photo. But with sunset shots, the problem gets compounded because of the reductive nature of the lighting.

    In the OP's first photo, we see a magnificent sky, but quickly lose interest because there is nothing else in the frame to give the photo some extra meaning; it's all setting and no subject. In the second photo, there is a boat, but it has very little visual weight in the frame. The boat is relatively minuscule, is surrounded by relatively dark tones, and is very close to the line of the shore; so it's not very well isolated and doesn't work well as a subject.

    If you can't find anything to serve as a good subject for your sunset shot, consider including a figure, either as a portrait with some fill flash or else as an interesting silhouette. If you're using a tripod, you can even be that figure yourself. Alternatively, see if there are any small objects in your possession or somewhere nearby that you can position somewhere and foreground in your frame. Look around, be creative, and try to get beyond the "wow, what a cool sky" point.

    Hope that helps. :)
  9. Aflatminer thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    Thank you everyone for your advice and compliments. I did consider the lack of a major subject to be an issue but alas I didn't have much time to set up a more dramatic shot.

    I have heard about gimp and plan to check it out. I also tried the free aperture trial mainly because I would like better library management but I hear that it may run pretty slowly on my 2010 13" MBP.

    Can anyone point me in the direction of a good beginners guide to photo editing? Preferably one that is online as I don't really have any experience with photo editing.
  10. GregPQ macrumors regular


    Jan 2, 2010
    Did you find Aperture to be slow? I'm new to Macs and have a 2-month old stock 13" MBP (see signature). I installed Aperture 3 a couple of weeks ago and have had no serious performance problems. It's not as fast as iPhoto, but you can tell it is doing a lot of major processing, so it does take a little while to accomplish some of the major transformations. Although I think iPhoto is an amazing freebie, I feel that Aperture is worth paying for.

    Just my $Ø.Ø2 USD.

  11. jbg232 macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2007
    I agree that the shots with a subject are very nice indeed, but sometimes the sunset itself will dramatically overpower any subject attempted to be placed. Here's an example of a shot on a beach:

    Attached Files:

  12. Aflatminer thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    To be honest I haven't really found it to be anything yet. My photo library is still too small to confirm the reports that I have heard, as a result I am not knocking aperture by any means. I am still researching which program to buy so that I don't regret my investment down the line.
  13. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y

    Aperture 1 ran fine on my desktop, but Aperture 3 CRAWLS and sometimes freezes forcing me to force quit... On a 24" iMac 2.4ghz core 2, 4gb ram with a 1.5TB library about 1/3 full. :mad:

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