Lesson 65: Sunset Makeover

OK, this is the 3rd and final makeover post of Gina’s vacation photos (at least for now).  This time, we’re going to take a look at my favorite photo of the 3 Gina sent me.   I love this photo.  I love dramatic contrasts and I never tire of sunsets.  This one has lots of appeal with the way the light is reflected on the lake.  The exposure is great and the focus is perfect.

Here is the original photo Gina sent me:

Original Photo from Gina
Original Photo from Gina

She felt it was too dark.  Specifically, the foreground.  Without understanding what Gina was shooting for (sorry for another pun), I looked at it and said, “Oh, this would be great shot symmetrically.”  To simulate what that would look like, I used Snapseed to crop the photo a lot (and to turn up the contrast a touch and did a slight straighten) to get this:

Cropped to simulate a vertical, symmetrical version
Cropped to simulate a vertical, symmetrical version

Gina liked it, but she said she had liked the curved beach in the foreground of the scene–that was the part that was too dark.  Realizing I had missed the beach entirely, I went back and tried again.  This time, I used the Brightness Selective Adjustment in Snapseed to brighten up the beach along with a very slight contrast and straighten adjustment.  This is what I got:

Beach brightened just enough to show itself in the foreground
Beach brightened just enough to show itself in the foreground

Gina liked both versions.  Her comment was that it was cool to see the same thing two different ways.  I agree.  I often shoot a subject vertically, horizontally, using the rule of thirds, using symmetry, standing up, laying down, and anyway else I can think of.  Sometimes I get nothing.  Sometimes I get several shots I love.  But what I hate is when I get home and look at my photos and think, “Oh, if only I would have shot  _____ way.”

One final comment:  it’s pretty tough to get an exposure that works for the beach, the water, and the sky.  The only option is the Pro HDR app, which isn’t necessarily going to work that well for a sunset (depends on how fast things are moving and how well you can hold still).   Plus, Pro HDR probably wouldn’t have created the dramatic contrast between the sunlight and dark water.  Using apps like Snapseed to adjust after you shoot lets you decide how you want different parts of the photo to look–something the camera just doesn’t always predict well.  They’re still working on the mind reading camera.

Your Assignment:  Try this checklist the next time you’re taking photos of something (of course, not all of these work for all subjects):

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 8.29.10 PM

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