Sunsets – How can I make it POP?!?

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    • #448945
      Daniel Krueger

      Here is another sunset photo. I was using an ND-16 filter to capture this and did some post editing in Lightroom. I’m new to sunsets and this one is rather flat. I know there isn’t much to see in the foreground, but it just looks lifeless. Advice on how to improve this in Lightroom? (I do have Photoshop CS3 too, I’m just not very adept at using it)


      Nikon D70, ISO 200, f/16, 1/40

    • #448957

      There are numerous options dealing with color in Lightroom which is mostly the same as ACR which I use. Experiment with Profiles.  Here I chose one under Artistic profiles.  (*The first row choice on the left) It brought in a magenta line along the horizon.  One nice feature of using Profiles instead of presets is that once you choose a profile, you can return to the basic settings window and play even further with the effects of the Profile.  With presets you are pretty much committed to the result, but with profiles you are given only the first step.  You do not have to go further, but you can.   When you choose a profile, you can also play with the amount of the effect you want to use, by changing the percent number before you hit the choose or back button.  For example, maybe you want less magenta along the horizon.

      There is a choice that deals with all the colors. HSL, but one to look at is split toning.  Start with the saturation slider off or to the far left, then in the Hue slider baer, click on a color you want to work on.  Let’s say green.  Slam the sat slider all the way to the right to see the full effect of the green in your image.  Then start sliding it back to the left gradually to see if you find the color boost of green that looks good to you.  Try with the other colors.  In your photo, I found little red, but lots in the orange and yellows.  Don’t forget Curves.  Where you see the Default window, click and try the contrast settings.  (with your image, I chose Medium Contrast, the good ole S-Curve.

      Back in PS color choices abound, too,…..Selective Color and Color Balance adjustment layers, for example.

      When you are in the last step, goto Filter >Blur > Gaussian Blur.  Add quite a lot of blur.  Yikes it will look bad!  But, then try Overlay or Soft Light blending mode and watch what it does…a nice glow appears..and then lower the opacity to suit your taste. ( a kind of Orton Effect)   In this image it darkened the blue in the sky.

      In short, just play with color sliders tom see what happens.

      BTW. I really like the sun rings.  Maybe you can find a way to bring them out more

      • This reply was modified 3wk, 6d ago by Frank.
    • #448960
      Daniel Krueger

      Thanks Frank.

      There are so many ways to edit in so many tools. I appreciate your feedback. I like the simple approach you’ve described. I guess it’s part science and part experimentation! Thanks for the tips. If you have any further information like YouTube videos you like please pass them on!

    • #448981
      Rob Eyers

      If you really want to get into colour enhancement look into the LAB mode in PS. With it you can deal with colour separately from the grey scale of the image. Look up “LAB color mode in Photoshop” on Youtube…several vids there to get you started.

    • #449024

      try shooting again under different conditions.  if you’ve seen one blue sky with the sun you’ve seen them all so either your foreground has to have enough interest to carry the image or you have to shoot a spectacular sunset.  and by spectacular i mean a partially cloudy sky lit up with reds, pinks and orange hues.

      what’s your exif data?  it looks like you’ve focused very close to the camera and the rest of the image, including the sunset which is your subject, is out of focus.  or was the blur done in photoshop?

      you should also take 2 photos, one with your finger covering the sun so you don’t get the lens flare in the image.  merge the two together in ps and you can remove all of the lens flare and still have the sun in there.  if you like the flare then you can always keep it, but it’s good to have a second image without in case you want it removed.  personally, i’m not a fan of the lens flare unless it adds to the comp.

      • This reply was modified 3wk, 6d ago by beth.
    • #449036

      Daniel, Beth is spot-on. Your image looks flat because of a lack of an object creating interest. Unless you have a subject forming a beautiful silhouette or foreground, you need special cloud formations to make an image worthwhile to look at.

      To be honest, my favourite sunset spots are those just after sunset, when the sun colours the clouds from below. It also shrinks your dynamic range a bit, compared to shooting directly into the sun.

    • #449082
      Federico Alegria

      Hi there mate, and thanks for sharing. Hope you weren’t looking through the viewfinder when shooting this frame jajaja.

      The flare is quite interesting, is it natural or did you added it afterwards?

      – You need to clean your sensor, since it has some dirt on it as you can see in the upper-left corner.
      – I think manual focusing to the infinite with an f/16 or even f/22 aperture could have resulted in a less flat landscape. The thing is that the lens is focusing the foreground, which is just a portion of soil, and that’s not that interesting when considering the whole scene. Also this could have resulted in a more pronounced flare, and even darker colors (the color palette is nice since yellow and blue are complementary colors).
      – That ND filter was a wise call.

      This is my taste talking, but maybe you could make it a bit darker, with a subtle vignetting and that will be it.

    • #449101
      Dahlia Ambrose

      @drkrueger22 Hi Daniel, I agree with Tobie’s comment about having a silhouetted subject. Love the lens flare 🙂

    • #449110
      Daniel Krueger

      Thanks for all your feedback.

      Yes, Fernando, the lens flare is real/natural. I didn’t add it.

      I’ve been working and reworking this photo in Lightroom and Nik and coming up with lots of variations.

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