Before & After: Sunset

Sunsets can be highly dramatic subjects, but they can also be the devil’s own work to get right, because the sun itself is almost inevitably over-exposed and leaves everything else devoid of detail.


Sunset Before

This photograph was taken at dusk, looking over the giraffe enclosure of the nature reserve on Sir Bani Yas island. Capturing it was pretty much a case of point and click – the sun sets very quickly so close to the tropics. As it stands, it’s not a bad image, but I thought it would be interesting to see what could be done in the way of post-processing to improve it.


Sunset After

  • Although it works reasonably well with the sun slap bang in the middle of the picture, I cropped so as to put it on one of the classic ‘rule of thirds’ intersections.
  • In the process, this also eliminated much of the dark foreground, which didn’t contain anything of interest. It also brings to the fore the bare silhouetted branches that are the really interesting element of the image.
  • Hovering the magnifying glass in Lightroom’s Develop mode over the brightest part of the sun’s disc confirmed that it was completely blown out, with all three of the Red, Green and Blue readings at 100%, or as near as makes no difference. Moving the Whites slider all the way to -100 actually reduced this figure to around 75%, which is at least some improvement.
  • I also played around a bit with the Orange channel in the colour palette top provide a warmer overall cast.

By the way, did anybody else spot the bird sitting on the branch (at about 7 o’clock if the sun was a clockface)? I didn’t see it at all until I’d completed the editing.

ABFriday 8th January 2016

3 Comments on “Before & After: Sunset

  1. This is a gorgeously atmospheric photograph, and your tweaks to the original have made it even better!

  2. It is a very nice composition in the “after” with the rule of thirds. I like a bit more the atmosphere in the “before”, but that is just my taste for darkness. 🙂 I am still not sure I located the bird.

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