Starting the Easter holidays blessed with glorious weather I decided to set myself a small photography challenge. The rules were simple, capture the changing light of a sunset from an inspiring location less than 10 minutes drive from home. I finished up with a series of shots to show the transition.
Having researched a suitable location near the River Severn earlier in the week, I set off to Longney to see how the evening light would pan out.
Driving only a few minutes from home has the advantage of allowing you to check back regularly for the best light. The evening of this photoshoot didn’t look too promising with an ominous looking rain cloud and lots of haze. Despite very little wind the conditions soon changed for the better. The rape seed field set in front of the River Severn would add plenty of colour and provide the main interest.
The setup involved a 17-40mm lens with several graduated filters to balance the exposure. A 0.6 hard grad and 0.6 soft grad were combined to achieve this. If I’d had a 0.9 hard grad to hand this may have been more suitable. My first mistake was the addition of a polariser which I accidentally left on for the entire shoot. Pointing directly at the sun this effectively made it useless and only served to reduce the amount of light entering the camera and slow the shutter speed. Shooting started at f/13 to keep everything sharp throughout the range with a shutter speed of 1/5 sec to keep the foreground movement in check (admittedly without the polariser I could’ve increased this further!). The camera was tripod mounted at full stretch to catch a strip of the water.
I moved over to shooting in RAW format several years ago and haven’t looked back since. All photos are taken with auto white balance unless it’s absolutely necessary to correct the camera’s temperature choice and specify a manual value. This gives a good reference point when post processing. For this photoshoot the temperature was increased slightly to more accurately represent the conditions at the time. Contrast and saturation were also increased slightly with some minor spot removal. It appears even the cleanest filters can come back to haunt you with dust spots. The final shot of the series was a close-up of the sun, this time taking advantage of the haze to enable the burnt oranges to bleed through.
- Overall I’m pleased with the results and managing to capture the transformation of the light. As the sun begins to set you can see the change in colour temperature, particularly in the sky, from warm oranges to colder pinks and blues.
- The composition is traditional but works well to balance the shots.
- The images could have been sharper in the foreground, shooting at a higher shutter speed without the polariser and increasing the ISO from 100 to 200.
- More detail in the sky would have been good. A location that is worth revisiting.