ALWAYS EDIT – Photography Tip #26

I had arrived about two hours before sunset.  I’ve learned there’s considerably less stress if I arrive early, search for the ideal perspective, set up my equipment, and then wait for the exact moment; rather than run to a spot, throw my camera on my tripod, begin to shoot, and hope!  This afternoon contained all the indicators for a beautiful sunset: high cirrus clouds to reflect the light, a gap between the clouds and the horizon suitable for the sun to make its appearance onto the scene just before disappearing into the ocean, and cool enough to eliminate a lot of people who can oftentimes clutter your scene.

But the one unique factor about a california coastal sunset – the weather can change in mere moments, as was the case on this particular evening.  Within minutes, these very dense clouds had moved in placing the sunset into near obscurity.  I was so disappointed!  But, that goes with the territory.

Disappointed or not, I was there so I might as well fire off a few shots!  But when I viewed the images, I realized the clouds had chased away most of the light and nearly all of the color.  In fact, the images seemed rather drab to me.  So there it was, in my collection of “what could have been” image file.

But then three weeks later, i decided to see what I really had captured.  Not expecting anything to be hidden in the darkness, I began to experiment.

  • First, I leveled the horizon.  The sand had shifted causing my tripod to become skewed.
  • Next, I did a slight crop to eliminate the flagpole from the right side of the image.
  • In Photoshop, I selected the darker areas and then lightened them selectively. This allowed the rocks to become part of the image without damaging the integrity of the sunset.  Knowing I had little color to work with, I had to be careful to preserve what was there.
  • Then, I very slightly increased the exposure of the entire image to add some further dimension to the water.
  • Next, I increased my definition minimally in order to sharpen the image without using the more harsh sharpening tool.
  • And finally, I slightly increased the color saturation to enhance the color I had lost from the cloud cover.

And the result – I have an image that depicts a more subtle sunset, yet beautiful in its own right!

So, don’t give up on those images!!  Experiment!!  You may have something hidden that only needs some of your editing attention.


~ by photographyfree4all on March 11, 2012.

9 Responses to “ALWAYS EDIT – Photography Tip #26”

  1. Love all ur photos, but u know I especially like the ones of the pacific!!!! U r so talented! All my love!


  2. Reblogged this on Conceptual Art.


  3. Amazing transformation. I just love being able to do such things. This is definitely a keeper.


  4. Thanks, Kim. I’m with you on the Pacific coastal shots!


  5. And to think, I nearly missed this shot!! Thanks for stopping by Sharon!!


  6. Beautiful shot Steve! It’s hard to beat a good sunset! I am assuming you shoot RAW files. It’s amazing how much detail can be pulled out of a raw file during post processing. I have had several images that at first glance looked like nothing until I started adjusting. That’s definitely an advantage of digital photography.


  7. By the way, Kim is my little sister! Love you, Sis!!


  8. Agree with always edit 🙂 I used to not postprocess or edit my landscape photos, now I always do 🙂


  9. There have been times when I thought an image was lost, until I began to edit. Sometimes, it’s still a lost cause. But, often the result is surprising to me! That was the case here! Thanks for adding your comment! I really appreciate it!


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