Colors of Fall
By PF Staff in Favorite Photos on Dec 10, 2012
One of my favorite photos as of late was taken last year. I was in Florida for my brother's wedding in early October and the weather couldn't have been better. On one particularly fine evening, I set out to shoot the sunset and just as it dropped below the horizon I was confronted with this wonderful scene silhouetted against the beautiful orange of the sunset. Perhaps the biggest reason I chose this particular photo is that it has been cold and gray at my home for the last few days and it is very much warm and colorful. Just looking at it makes me feel relaxed and warm, like I've just spent the day on the beach.
Most of the time, I try to keep my kit simple, often setting out with no more than one lens, a camera body, extra batteries, and a couple of cards. I also tend to shoot handheld.
- Hands (i.e., no tripod/monopod)
- Pentax K100D
- Sigma 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 DL Macro
- Lightroom 4 for Post Processing
I typically shoot raw in manual mode unless I have a good reason not to do so and, since I had no reason not to, that is how this shot started. When deciding what settings to use, more times than not I will start with the "Sunny 16 rule." In this case, I set my ISO to 200 and my shutter speed to 1/200 and adjusted the aperture for the proper exposure.
- Focal Length: 150 mm
- ISO: 200
- Shutter Speed: 1/200
- Aperture: f/5
Like the kit I use, I also like to keep my post processing minimal. It's not that I can't do lots of whiz-bang stuff, but I don't see any reason to do anything just because I can and these days I hate leaving Lightroom. The rough recipe for this photo was:
- Lens profile correction
- Straighten horizon
- Boost contrast
- Boost clarity
- Tone curve
The first thing I do when I'm post-processing is check my lens profile corrections. Then I straighten the horizon, which is usually necessary when I shoot handheld. I always try to get it straight, but I'm not perfect. For this photo, which is a pretty simple scene, I wanted to really draw out the color in the sky and deepen the silhouette. I had a pretty decent starting point, it just needed lots of contrast. So, I boosted the contrast +100 to really bring out the silhouette and added a touch of clarity (+10) to bring out the colors in the sunset. It was almost perfect, but I wanted a little more, so I tweaked the tone curve into a very subtle S to add just a little more contrast.
The Photo Before
It may not seem like much, but sometimes the best things are simple things. To me this image elicits a positive emotional response and brings back a lot of good memories of that week, but I think it also tells a story that almost anyone can identify with--the simple pleasure of spending a day on the beach and enjoying a beautiful sunset.