There’s a spot near my house which has a great vantage point for watching the sunset. Yesterday I noticed the clouds were forming up nicely as the sun got lower in the sky so I decided to pop over to that spot and catch some pics of the event.
I shot four sets of images — two sets of brackets for some prospective HDRs, some shots of other cloud formations with some of the local vegetation blowing in the wind, and one set of images for a panorama shot. For the panorama I shot in manual mode so the exposure remained consistent throughout the shots. If you shoot in Av or any other automatic mode the camera will meter every time you press the shutter. As you sweep the camera from a light part of the sky to a darker part, the camera tries to compensate by increasing the exposure. When you stitch the frames the sky won’t match from frame to frame. I also bracketed the panorama frames +/- 1 stop…just in case.
After stitching the center exposures in Photoshop I applied a couple of curves adjustment layers — a separate curve for the blue and red channels. I then added an exposure adjustment layer, set it to +1.8 stops, then applied a gradient mask so that only the right side of the image was actually increased by 1.8 stops. Pretty simple treatment and quick to apply.
Here’s an 8-exposure HDR taken earlier in the evening. Tonemapped, applied two sets of curves, blended a Topaz Adjust “Photo Pop” layer at 50% opacity. I wish there was an interesting foreground subject or feature to have included, but the sky makes it worth the shot IMO.
This shot looks much better large so after reading click on the image to view it on flickr, where you can view in a larger size.
I thought I’d post a semi-old panorama of the Austin skyline (taken 9 months ago). It’s already out of date given that the cranes are no longer part of the scene, but I hope to capture a new one soon. The sun was completely gone but there was just enough orange left in the western sky to reflect some sunset color off some of the buildings.
A wide panorama like this can be a bit tricky when the light is changing. When you shoot images for a panorama you ideally use manual mode to keep the same exposure for each individual image. This makes it easier to generate smooth, consistent exposure and colors when you stitch/blend the images. However, one must shoot quickly around sunrise/sunset so that the colors don’t change between the beginning and end of the final image. This is especially true if your exposures are long and you’re overlapping each image by 50% (my typical choice, although it generally works well even with only 20% overlap).
Processing was pretty “normal” by my standards. I used Photoshop to stitch the image from nine exposures (each at 90mm, f/5.6, 1/2s), bumped up the exposure about 1/2 stop, played with curves, reduced the noise with Noiseware, and selectively sharpened (via layer masks). I had bracketed my images so I used the underexposed frames to get a couple blown-out areas back, notably the top of the Frost Bank Tower (the one that looks like a nose trimmer).
I spent last weekend in the Seattle area and had the privilege of second-shooting my nephew’s wedding. Maybe I’ll post some pics from that later.
Got to bed at 1:40am after the wedding and got up at 3:50am to take my daughter to the airport (she had another wedding to go). The skies had been quite clear during our visit so I had hopes of capturing some dawn shots of Mt. Rainier since I’d be further south toward the mountain.
After dropping my daughter off (at 4:30) I drove up to the 7th floor of the SE parking garage at SeaTac. There was a great vantage point so I abandoned my initial plan of driving further south toward the mountain — didn’t want to end up missing the first sunlight hitting the mountain.
Shot a bazillion images. Bracketed some of them +/- 1 stop to be sure to get something decent. Captured the pano at the top of the post after sunrise, and this one above before the sun hit the face of the mountain. The sky was a bit hazy but I’m quite happy with what I got. In several other visits to Seattle over the years Mt. Rainier was only visible for a brief period one Sunday morning — never saw it again. I was fortunate to see it for several days last weekend.
Surely these aren’t the best panos you’ve ever seen but they do look quite a bit better when viewed large on flickr (click the images to go to flickr then click the “All Sizes” button above the image).