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Cobh at sunset

The tide is out in Cobh, Co. Cork while the sun sets in the west casting an orange glow over the water and boats in the harbour.

This required some work to expose properly. The sky is bright while the harbour, houses and landscape are in shadow. Out with the layers, top layer for the sky was darkened and the opposite was done for the ground.
Then it’s the simple task of adding a layer mask to the top layer and rubbing out the dark bits to expose the brightened landscape.
When using a layer mask, never paint with an opacity of 100%, try 30% or even 5%. Don’t be afraid to do a rough job of exposing the bottom layer because with a layer mask you can always reverse the procedure by swapping the colour of your brush with an opposite colour!

Thank you all for the comments on yesterday’s post, The Lonely Swan, it’s great to get feedback and I’m glad when people get something out of my methods when I describe them. See what you’ve done? I did it again!

Aperture ƒ/4
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 200
Shutter speed 1/20s

By Donncha

Donncha Ó Caoimh is a software developer at Automattic and WordPress plugin developer. He posts photos at In Photos and can also be found on Twitter.

9 replies on “Cobh at sunset”

Have you thought of getting a graduated ND filter? I have one for one of my lenses (but not for the one I use most for landscapes at the moment, drat it), and it can help save quite a bit of time in post-processing. But it limits my flexibility, since I have to put the horizon where the filter “wants” it.

What I’m thinking of doing is getting a piece of ND gel to toss in the camera bag, and just holding that in front of the lens at the right place to get the image closer to correct. I’m already carrying CTO, “window green” (makes my flash match cheap fluorescent lights) and CTB gels that I can tape onto my flash if needed, so another piece of gel is probably the right answer for me. Might be for you, too.

I priced an ND filter and was shocked at the price of a 77mm one to fit my Sigma 10-20 lens.
While it would be useful to have one, I think I would find it restricting – the above photo was composed and shot in the space of about 10 seconds while walking along the quay in Cobh, with my wife and the dog waiting for me. The shots before and after were completely different street scenes with none or little sky so fitting the filter would have been a once off event.

I generally under expose because it’s easier to regain shadow detail than blown out whites afterwards. Of course, I’m shooting RAW again which helps too!

I must look at buying an ND grad filter again however and perhaps keeping it in a pocket and more accessible.

xeer has posted a comment:

I rarely use a tripod and with plenty of practise I manage to hold the camera fairly steady. I think I leaned against the rail that’s just visible in this photo for further stability but I usually use street furniture for balance instead of lugging around a tripod!

Cobh at sunset

If you decide to pick up an ND filter for your 10-20, it may be worth waiting until your next trip to the states. They’re not cheap, but they don’t see exhorbitantly priced here.

As for shooting raw, it’s the only way to go. I tend to shoot so my brightest highlights are just coming up to the edge of the histogram for the same reason you do. And I always have the histogram on, since it’s just so useful in checking exposure, especially on twilight and night shots that can be pretty challenging. About the one exception for exposure are when there’s a prominent light in the frame that I’m willing to let blow out, and then I’ll let thing crowd the right of the histogram.

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