Evening Shots Close to Home

It is tempting when reading the Photography magazines to believe that you need to travel a long way to take good or interesting photographs.  But for most of us, this is simply not practical.  So we have to learn to make the most of what is close to us.  In my case, I have ended up getting pretty tired of shots of corn fields this summer!  But last evening, I was walking the dog and decided to take some pictures of the impending sunset.  It was a sunny day, so I had high hopes of some interesting shots.  I also wanted to practice low light pictures, having only dabbled in this once before.  So I took my tripod and waited.  There is a lot of waiting involved in snapping sunsets!  Also, the sun adopts the same stance as the watched kettle – it never seems to actually set!!  So here are some things I learnt:

  • Get a good vantage point which will allow you to be undisturbed.  I used the entrance to a field which allowed me to stand for half an hour unmolested, despite the farmer driving past in his tractor and giving me a very strange look.
  • Try and find an interesting feature or skyline, as the sun itself isn’t really what you want to be directly in your picture.
  • As everybody says, there isn’t really a ‘standard’ F-stop, shutter speed and ISO setting to use.  It depends what you are trying to do.  If for example there are also waves or moving water, you might want to do a slow exposure and thus need to adjust the ISO and shutter speed accordingly.  My first photo below was taken with a 1 second exposure time.
  • Use and ND grad filter!  I used an ND4 square filter, and in some pictures this was still not stopping the highlights from being over exposed.
  • Have patience!  I also read a comment from somebody who said that the real action in a sunset takes place AFTER the sun has set, not before.  It may be half an hour after the sun disappears that you will find dramatic effects.

And so, on to the pictures, all taken around my home village.  I also enjoyed snapping the local church, as the external lights had just come on and this led to some interesting effects.

Above: A 1 -second exposure taken at F20 and ISO100 to try and preserve the detail.

Above: Taken at F5.6 and 1/80 second exposure time, again at ISO100, about 5 minutes after the sun had set.  If you look VERY carefully, to the right of the first right-hand tree, you will see a paraglider who had been buzzing about for the last half an hour.

Above: The church, taken after sunset with the lights illuminating the exterior.

Above: This last one is a single image which I fed through Photomatix to try and get an HDR effect, but it came out looking rather ghostly and eerie, which I like.

Above: The local pub after dark.  Used ISO2500, 1/80 second shutter speed at F4, in shutter priority mode, as it was taken handheld.

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