Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Parramatta Sunset

Went to a christening this weekend, and spent a happy time wandering around with the camera, but then saw this gorgeous sunset over the river, and just had to forget the proud parents and baby for a few moments (I don't think they minded too much).  I like this shot in this vertical format with all the texture of the water ripples in the foreground, but I think it would also work well as a horizontal crop of the top third - perhaps from just above the little cloud, down to the first of the dark ripples that crosses the sun's reflection.

I have to admit - I got shutter-happy, and shot 22 pictures in 3 minutes!  I was just spot metering from everywhere and anywhere, holding exposure lock, re-aligning and shooting.  I honestly can't tell you where this particular shot was metered from - I was just concentrating on the boat and waiting for it to cross the line of the reflection...

Sadly, there was a crane and a TV antenna on the horizon flanking the sun, which I've had to patch out using PP.  I rushed it a bit and it isn't as good as I'd have liked - but reduced down to this size, I don't think the blemishes are too obvious (I've seen a lot worse PP examples!).

What do I mean by spot metering and exposure lock?  Let me try and explain...
In a scene like this, different areas present a huge variation in light levels, and this makes it difficult to expose the whole image to get a balanced feel.  Spot metering means that you nominate one small area of the whole image (I think the D3000 has 11 to choose from) on which the camera should base its exposure calculations.  You can line up the shot, and then cycle through all the little metering spots to take a reading from different parts of the scene.  Alternatively (and this is the method I prefer), leave the spot metering on the one little segment right in the center of the viewfinder and just point the camera where you want to meter from.  Then, use the exposure lock button (sorry, you'll have to get the book out for how to do that on your camera - on mine, its a button marked AE-L/AF-L, but you have to assign the right function to the button in the config pages... :( ).  Exposure lock allows you to take a reading from one point, and 'lock it in'... then you can move the camera to line up the shot you really want, and it will take the shot without re-assessing the exposure.  So if you have an image like this with an extremely bright sun which will ruin the exposure (and confuse the camera hopelessly), then take a meter reading from the sky a little to the side of the sun, or off the reflection of the sun in the water, or off the reflection of the sky in the water... just experiment metering from different places - light and dark, to see what affect it has on the image.  Unlike me though, its a good idea to make a note of what you did for each experiment, so you can make sense of the results three days later when you finally get them off the camera :(

Until the next time....

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