Sunset tonight was glorious, the nicest we've seen for a while, but there's a slight problem with my photos.
This is a straight-out-of-camera jpg. It has been exposed for the sky, and the foreground is shown as a hard black silhouette.
The sky is pretty good, and I feel the colour is accurate and it looks like what I saw. The foreground is completely unrealistic, and it bothers me that I can see hints of things but no details... I find this a bit distracting.
The SOOC file - no edits.
I like silhouettes and I'm tempted to finish by making it solid black.
This might be the simplest and best solution... darken the shadows and remove the lights from the houses and now there are no distractions in the foreground. I don't mind this and I think it's artistic - but not a realistic representation.
Ok, so what would be realistic - in case we do care about that?
Well, this next shot is very realistic, but it is by far the worst version so far. What I've done here is simply boost the shadows by 100%. The foreground now looks about as bright as it did to my naked eye, and the sky is uneffected. Standing there tonight I was clearly able to see the grass, the path and fence, the people and the dogs... but I hate this! Although I said it is "accurate" I find it very flat and unappealing.
My Proposed Solution
Tonight I looked at this scene and asked myself what exactly did I want to see in the foreground if anything? How about just a bit of the path leading into the photo and also the human figures? Pehaps a hint of the split-rail fence would be nice as well.
By loading the orignal image and the brightened image into Photoshop as layers, I was able to paint-through brighter areas over top of the original. I removed the bright lights from the houses, and also the cars from the road. I decided to get rid of all but the one large house which I feel looks mysterious. I added a slight vignette which I hope pulls the eye towards the centre of the photo. Notice at no time was the saturation or vibrance altered. I think if I start playing with the saturation in a sunset photo it will quickly become too artificial looking - for my taste.
I also did not want to produce an HDR image - I spent years doing that, and oh boy did I rack up the shutter count on my Nikon D750 taking three shots of everything! It's why I would never try to sell that camera, I wouldn't get much for it. Now I'm using my little Olympus em-5 mkii and I want to see if I can get good image quality. I shoot jpg plus RAW and it would be better to process the RAW files, but I wanted to see if there is enough information in an Olympus jpg file to do this sort of post processing.
I hope this editing has improved the image from the straight-out-of-camera file. Let me know if you have any thoughts about these images. Which do you prefer - the original, the version with the solid silhouette, the brighter one, or my final edit?
Edit: I'll tell you what... photos look better on eSteem Surfer! Why is that? I was just looking at this post on Steemit and I couldn't see the difference between the shots... I was wondering, what is this guy talking about? eSteem. You need to check it out!
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