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Sunset Overtones

Posted by
Darkelf Photography (Perth, Australia) on 21 January 2022 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.


The final act of a brilliant evening that we experienced on the south coast of Australia near the town of Esperance. It started with fiery orange tones, progressed through vivid red hues and ended with a long lasting afterglow where the colours just kept on lingering into the evening. As they were slowly fading away, I decided to take a long exposure at the very end to see if I could catch some of that amazing afterglow and dreamy mood that was present in the scene. I was really thrilled with the result but I kept away from processing the final image because I already posted previous photos from this location from earlier in the evening. Recently I decided that it was the right time to have a look at this photo and I am even more happy with it now.

It was almost an afterthought to take this shot. I remember looking at the sky and deciding whether to pack up but then I remembered occasions when, after an intense sunset, there was a secondary appearance of colours just when I thought I was done for the day. To the naked eye, the colours were not as intense as in the image. This is the bonus of taking an extended exposure at this time of the evening. Through the four minutes when the shutter was open, I was able to photograph all the light and colour which were present for the duration of the exposure. They have all added together to create the glow and vibrancy that you can see here. Combining with the movement of the clouds and soft milky water, they all create a surreal atmosphere. I just love to be able to put my vision and skills to achieve this kind of result. I am not a documentary style photographer. My vision is to photograph different moods of the landscapes that surround us around this beautiful planet, from soft and delicate to dramatic and surreal.

This photo required very little in post processing, other than some tonal and contrast adjustments. The most important colour adjustment was getting the white balance to fit my vision as the starting point. The original exposure was very blue tone heavy. This can often be a result of taking a long exposure in the twilight hours of the day. The sunset tones and the glow on the rocks were just about perfect so I worked a little bit on reducing the blue intensity without removing it completed as it still contrasted well with the warmer colours. Long exposure and the light on the day have done almost all the work for me. As the light was fading away around the main glow, it created a very natural vignette effect and that also worked to enhance the scene and guide the eyes through the main part of the scene.

What I was most happy about this scene, was the glow of red tones on the rocks in the foreground. When the light was at its most intense, earlier in the evening, these colours shone through superbly on the wet granite boulders. By the time I took this image, the glow was only very faint and subtle but it was also multiplied and enhanced in the long exposure and I absolutely loved it. It was one of those rare evenings which was amazing to photograph from start to finish. Finding a great spot for composition early on was a bonus as well. It allowed my plenty of time to take photos during various stages of the sunset.

I am sure I followed a path of many other photographers, when I was initially so enchanted with long exposures and took a lot of them early on in my journey. Over the years, I have been a little bit more sparse in the use of my heavy ND filters but they are always present in my bag and there is always a vision of a long exposure at the back of my mind, especially when photographing coastal scenery.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV 240 seconds F/8.0 ISO 200 16 mm

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Magical and Enchanting by Steven