Sunset Over Foster City

Sunset Over Foster City

Tech Info: 2 exposures combined using D300s | 50 mm | ISO 200 | f/11 for 1/3 s and f/9 for 30s.

After picking up this hobby, I’ve got some really talented flickr friends whose work are jaw-dropping. Two of those are Daniel and Rajesh. They are the masters of digital blending. After following their work for sometime, I was inspired to practice the art of blending multiple exposures, especially the sunset/sunrise shots.

Due to the limited time I can allocate to this hobby, the only place that I can visit to even view a sunset was our good old Ryan Park, which is like a 2 min drive from my place. Every evening I would look up and pay attention to the cloud formation expecting to see some gorgeous colors. Many evenings went by with me just saying “Gosh I missed another one”. Today I forced myself to head out, but was still late. I had just enough time to setup and take a frame with the golden color still in the horizon.

Since the image I was after involved a mix of warm and cold hues, I had to wait for the blue hour to kick-in. Once the blue hour started to trickle on the west side, took some shots, but they were still not bluish to my taste. So after waiting for 30 mins, I still couldn’t get the color. I was supposed to meetup with a friend at a nearby coffee shop which closes at 9:30 PM. Since this was a test shot to practice some blending, I convinced myself that it was enough and made my way for a hot cup of coffee.

Combining 2 frames might sound easy and its exactly that; they just sound easy. In reality its really hard and more so when you have so many freaking uneven elements in the frame. Probably I should have kept it simple by choosing a much less cluttered scene. But in my defense, this is the only place where I can get some sky and water near to my house.

Processing: It involved layering 2 exposures, and using layer masks to reveal part of them. The golden glow comes from an exposure taken at f/11 for 1/3 s and the blue-hour sky, buildings and water comes from another exposure taken at f/9 for 30s. Once they were combined to my liking, used curves to add a boost to the contrast of the overall image.

I know some of you are expecting the sequence of steps I usually take. Sorry to disappoint you folks. Since this was only a test shot, I didn’t pay much attention to the exact sequence, but it definitely involves what I’ve described above. Once I start practicing this on more images, then I’ll ensure that I add them here.

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