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Jumping back into sharing my entries for LensProToGo.com’s 52 week challenge, this weeks theme was “Sunset”

I ran out to the south edge of the Great Salt Lake very close to the Marina (my images of the Marina from an earlier post) to a place called “Black Rock” a monolithic plateau of rock that juts out into the Great Salt Lake and when the water is low becomes surrounded by beach and mudflats that you can freely explore.  The sunset was shaping up nicely with lots of dynamic clouds and the promise of an explosion of color. Ah clouds! When in the right place they make a sunset turn magical, when they’re in the wrong place however they can be it’s greatest enemy and today I was battling the enemy as the clouds that had promised an explosion of color now covered the Sun shutting down the magic just before it could really start.  I grabbed a quick shot as soon as I was out of the car just in case and it’s a good thing I did as it’s the one I ended up using as the light only got worse…

3 shot Handheld HDR

3 shot Handheld HDR The Sun’s last gasp of light before it dropped into the bank of clouds hugging the horizon and choking off the light.

Anyone who has spent at least a few nights in Utah knows that we have amazing sunsets here, but having amazing sunsets doesn’t mean that you’ll have an amazing sunset picture.

What could I possibly mean by that? If it’s a beautiful sunset what could possibly make it difficult to photograph? Let me ask you this, how many shots have you taken of grand sweeping views that take your breath away in person, but when you view them on your computer screen at home that feeling of wonder and majesty is just gone, now it’s flat, uninspiring, maybe even boring?  Remember a picture is a 2D representation of a 3D scene, clouds and foreground don’t stick out of the screen or print to sweep overhead in colorful grandeur or sit poised to trip your feet if you would take a step forward. Instead of that layered depth we see in person of foreground, middle and far, a picture literally flattens everything to one paper thin depth.

This is where using light, shadow and perspective help to trick our eyes into interpreting these 2d images into something that is closer to what we would see if we had been standing there in person.

Setting the camera low and close to a foreground element while using a wide angle lens will help distort the image enough that now objects start to look differently enough that your brain is forced into making them look like they are at different distances. Clouds begin to seem to sweep up and overhead and to recede into the distance.  Try it the next time you find yourself taking a picture of an awe inspiring scene, find a close foreground element (a rock, bush, flower, or gnarled tree etc) to fill some space at the bottom or side of your frame and see how that helps expand the depth of the scene.

Walking onto the mudflats I found some driftwood to play with that might demonstrate the point.

6 shot HDR - Tripod with Sigma 10-20mm

6 shot HDR – Tripod with Sigma 10-20mm

Looking for a shot

My wife caught me out on the mudflat looking for a shot (you can see the driftwood on the left edge)

One last example of layering your shot.

Rusty posts-HDRThanks for stopping by the blog today, I hope you enjoyed the sunset and try out some new techniques the next time you have a chance to photograph one!

Happy Shooting!