First Sunset (part 1)

People close to me know that recently I was nailed by a nasty cold bug. So nasty that I considered investing in stocks of dayquil and kleenex. Despite a strong desire to stay hidden beneath layers of covers, today I dragged my pitiful self out to greet the first sunset of the new year. It was also a good chance to fire away with the Canon 7D and 100-400 lens. Usually I shoot nature photography, but the light was so nice (and I was feeling left over holiday cheer) that I tried to add a more human element.

The following photographs aren’t all works of art, but after going through them I realized that when viewed chronologically, they give a good impression of how evening light can quickly change. When it comes to shooting sunsets, even 5 minutes can completely alter the feel of an image. The first image was taken about 45 minutes before sunset with some medium cloud cover (looking over the Pacific from a San Diego beach).

The sun is above the frame and behind some clouds, giving the sky a pastel soft look. Not very dramatic but nice evening light.



Surfer paddling into the ocean
Surfer paddling into the ocean

Same surfer, same nice pastel colors. If you look you can see near the top of the frame the thicker cloud that is hiding the sun. Underneath it there is a gap over the horizon that I hoped would stay clear.



Wading bird feeding along the coast
Sand Piper feeding along the shoreline

This was taken a few minutes later. The sun finally starts to push through the thinning clouds and patches of water took on a nice yellow reflection. I was happy to see that the canon 7D locked focus quickly and things looked sharp (see the “fuzzy lens” post for why I had problems earlier).



Man pulling kayak into water
Man pulling kayak into Pacific Ocean

Here you can see that the sun really starts to push through the clouds making it hard to shoot the sky without blowing the highlights in part of it.



Kayakers row into ocean

Here the kayakers begin paddling into the ocean. They are no longer directly in front of the sun so the sky is still warm, but less intense.



Surfer and orange sky

Now the hidden sun and sky are becoming more colorful and orange. I underexposed slightly to bring out this color and keep the surfer a nice silhouette



Interesting evening clouds

Away from the setting sun, the clouds start looking interesting. It seems like there are several layers bunching up near the horizon.



Surfer looks over the ocean

Here you can see that the light levels are starting to drop and there is a definite evening feel to the image.



Female surfer enters the water

By using the 100-400 zoom lens I picked out a colorful piece of water and waited for this female surfer to pass through it.



Surfer scans horizon

Another view of a surfer looking over the waves. I like this image for the seaweed covered rocks.




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