One good thing about winter is that you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to catch the sunrise. At this time of year the sun gets up around 8.30 where I live. Of course, in order to get the best light you have to be in place earlier than that, but anyway. Saturday a week ago I managed to drag myself out of bed at a quarter past six, take the dog out for a little walk and get something to eat before heading out to the local lake. There were some clouds, and I had good hopes for a nice sunrise.
As I got there another photographer turned up too. So I was not the only one up early. I found a spot to set up my tripod and camera, which was set to do exposure bracketing in aperture priority mode, at f/13 to get good depth of field. I had my Canon EF-S 15-85 mm lens set to 15mm on the 550D, and I also attached my cable release.
I shot several sets of three exposures as the light changed. I also moved around a little, trying different compositions, like the one below. Here I zoomed in to 55 mm, to really fill the frame with red clouds and yellow sunshine.
After I got home it was time for post production. I had bracketed both shots with -2, 0, +2 stops so I could make HDR and keep most of the dynamic area of the scene. I could have taken a fourth exposure at +4 stops to get more detail in the deepest shadows, but I feel it looks more natural with just a hint of detail. Here are the two normal exposures for comparison, only corrected for rotation and white balance:
The main problem in the wide angle shot is the very dark, close to totally black foreground, and also the hills in the background, combined with the gap between the clouds, which is blown out. The HDR version also gave me smoother water from the longest exposure. This is a normal HDR made the way I usually do in Macrofusion, and with smaller parts of the original exposures painted in afterwards in Gimp.
The closer shot also has this black foreground and hills in the background. There is also some ugly clipping in the red clouds. I made this too as an HDR, but ended up painting in so much of the dark and light exposures that most of it is gone now. The clouds are from the dark exposure, the foreground and the hills in the background are from the light exposure, and the smooth water is from a special version of the light exposure that I darkened before I exported it. In both pictures I also painted in some extra yellow in the gap between the clouds.
I am currently planning a series of YouTube videos to show how I do my post processing and which programs I use under the Linux Mint operating system. If you would like to see how to manage without Photoshop and Lightroom, then stay tuned, and I will let you know when I start publishing.
In the mean time, have a look at those two images in all their glory in my landscape gallery.