7 Tips for Better Sunset Photography

7 Tips for Better Sunset Photography

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As everyone knows, the best moment to capture the best light is during sunset, this time of day coincides with the best softest light and which gives better colors in the sky and lights. This time of the day is generally between golden hour and blue hour to achieve the best light in the day

Nowadays everyone knows this simple but basic rule of photography, but so how to go further? How can be more professional in this field? Let’s find out in this article through these 7 tips for better sunset photography

1 Scout the Location Before Shooting

Scouting of the location is the requirement of a professional photography, as regards the main difference is made to arrive early and leave late the location. This simple advice will drastically increase the possibility of returning home with a shot of greater interest

Arriving earlier helps to find the right position of the photo, going away late helps to find the right light you are looking for in the shot you’re making. Sometimes it happens that the best moments for shooting are moved from the canonical moments of the golden and blue hour, this is because they are strongly conditioned from weather and location

2 Know the Sun Spot

This is the primary tip for a professional photo, knowing the sun’s position increase the chance to create impactful images. You will understand what the light will do and consequently what your image will look like, in this way you will be able to adjust your photo according to your needs

To find out this position you can help you with many apps, for example I use Photopills that have a very intuitive sun spot section

3 Shoot into the Sun direction

When it is possible I love shooting landscape into the sun direction. Taking the shot into the sun direction greatly increases the possibility of creating impactful images because it includes an important point of energy in the frame

Shooting into the sun direction also allows you to play with the sun’s spikes when it “lands” on some element of the frame, a condition that I love to capture in my landscapes

4 Always Bracket your Shots

When shooting towards sunset the possibility of having images with a great contrast is very high. Usually high contrasted images are very difficult to manage and for this reason I always shoot using bracketing mode

The bracketing mode grants to obtain a wide dynamic range of the scene through a series of exposures, furthermore, this guarantees an excellent result for digital blending of the image in Photoshop

5 Try Differents Focal Lens

As a landscape photographer I have always captured many photos using my wide angle, but during time I learned the importance of experimenting with other points of view and other focal lengths to achieve best results


In some cases, using different lenses instead of wide angle can give better results, it all depends on the location and situation, it is the case of the gallery below that I took in the mountains or in the hills. At a distance I had points that hit the eye with a wide angle it would not have been the same results

6 Focus on Composition

Everything said above is important but it is nothing compared to a good composition, this is the main tip that allows you to create an impactfull landscape. Don’t always focus yourself on shooting at eye level, include the right portion of the sky / foreground in your photo and balance the elements for a perfect composition. On this topic I have written a specific guide that I recommend you go and read called 7 Composition guidelines for better landscape photography

7 Luminosity Masking

Luminosity masks are the best way to bring out the best on your sunset images, using luminosity masks and digital blending can easily include in your image all the main elements of your shots and create a balanced images with a full dynamic range

You can read more about luminosity masks in many articles of this site and you can take a look better at them on my dedicated guide mastering luminosity masks. Don’t forget to going deepen downloading my FREE panel for Photoshop and if you want to go deepen you can discover TTS Pro for easy and professional digital blendings


The Hills of Val d’Orcia Pt.2

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This week I continue with a collection of images captured in the suggestive Val d’Orcia in Tuscany. Side the images published last week are added these, some taken in very famous locations in the area and also many of these captured with a telephoto that in this area helps a lot to exalt the beauty of the place and his landscapes

This second collection it is entirely captured from the top of some hills, details of some very suggestive farms at various times of the day, I love the alternation of light and the contrasts that are created by playing among the details of the hills and trees

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

This series is composed by single shots so no digital blendings was done for this images. As the previous post I applied the same “treatment” for these shots: increase details, applied a warm filter and decreased some highlights in the sky

For some shots I also applied a soft orton effect, I increased a little bit contrast and fixed colours using my panel TTS Pro. As final step I applied a soft vignette to all the images to give more prominence to the main subject

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D850

Nikon 70-200 f/2,8 

Single Shots

ISO: 100 

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


The Hills of Val d’Orcia

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After a winter without travel, I finally had the opportunity to leave for this magnificent location in Tuscany. Very famous but also very photographed is the third time I come here in few years. Tuscany offers fantastic photography spots in every angle and with the help of google earth before travel it is the perfect place to photograph

Here it comes handy necessary the use of a telephoto lens, not that with other types of lenses you do not take as many beautiful photos but at my view the telephoto lens here leave space to focus more on details and gives you the chance to take home a few more shot

This small collection is an example of some shots taken from the top of some hills, details of some very suggestive farms at various times of the day, I love the alternation of light and the contrasts that are created by playing among the details of the hills

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

This series is composed by single shots so no digital blendings was done for this images. I applied the same “treatment” for these shots: increase details, sharpness, applied a warm filter

For some shots I also applied a soft orton effect, I increased a little bit contrast and fixed highlights and shadows using luminosity masks. I made all those steps using TTS Pro and as final step I applied a soft vignette to all the images to give more prominence to the main subject

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D850

Nikon 70-200 f/2,8

Single Shots

ISO: 100

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


Easy Digital Blending using TTS Pro

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In this video we will see some fast and easy digital blending techniques using to using TTS PRO panel

It is possible to digital blend two or more exposures through the use of luminosity masks or through the digital blending functions included in the third page of the panel called Blend

1. Fast Blend

One of the most easy and fast techniques is the use of Fast Blend, if you have the darker image on top use fast blend darks, in the case you have the brighter image on top use fast blend lights. With this TTS Pro function with just one click the image on top is digital blended with the bottom image

2. Auto Blend

Auto Blend offers the possibility to choose the degree of digital blending among the images, using a series of luminosity masks to apply to the selection. In this way you can visually choose by scrolling with the selector, which mask applies best to your image

3. Blend using Luminosity Masks

TTS Pro allows you to freely use the luminosity masks not only for edits on adjustment layers but also for digital blending directly two or more exposures. An interesting and simple technique is to use the channels section in the first page of the panel and after selecting a mask, create a black mask adjustment layer to apply the selection directly. Below the steps:

  1. Go to Luminosity Masks page of TTS Pro
  2. Select Channel drop down menù
  3. Select a mask
  4. Select black mask from the adjustment layers buttons

Furthermore there’s always possibility of freely applying the masks to a previous layer mask created and then paint over the image in order to manually do it. Below the steps:

  1. Go to Luminosity Masks page of TTS Pro
  2. Apply a layer mask to the exposure you want to blend
  3. Select Channel drop down menù
  4. Select a mask
  5. Press Ctrl+H (Win) or Cmd+H (Mac) to apply the selection to the mask
  6. With a black brush paint the areas you want to manually blend

you can find all the steps described in the video below

Enjoy the video


TTS PRO 2.0 out 28th February – Preorder Now!

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Get TTS Pro – Click below to Preorder

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FAQ

Which PS version is compatible with TTS Pro? TTS Pro it’s compatible with all photoshop CC versions

Is TTS Pro Compatible with CS6? TTS Pro is not compatible with CS6 and previous PS versions. It only works from CC (2015) and latest

The download have instructions? There is a pdf online link inside the panel, that explain the correct use of the panel with youtube links, anyway the panel is very intuitive and easy to use

Will this work with Photoshop Lightroom or Elements? I’m afraid but the panel only running in Photoshop. Currently the panel works in all versions of CC (including latest)

What does lifetime updates mean? Lifetime updates means that all customers of TTS Pro get every single new update for free. They do not have to purchase the new releases of TTS Pro again when it will be update

Which languages does TTS Pro support? The panel works in all language versions of Photoshop, but the panel is always in English

What is the current version of TTS Pro? The current version is 2.0

Will this work on a Mac computer? This will work on both a Mac and PC

Is this Windows 10 Compatible? This is 100% compatible with Windows 10


The Power of Blue Hour Photography

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Some time ago I wrote an article on how to shoot during the golden hour, this is usually the best time of the day to shoot sunsets with the best and most powerfull conditions for photography. However golden hour does not always provide stunning results, it may happen that the weather is not good, or with a flat sky. In all these cases blue hour is a very good alternative

But blue hour is more than that, it depends on what are you looking for but in most cases can be to prefer to golden hour. So we see in this article the power of blue hour photography and when exploit it

1. Enhance Mood

The aspect that I prefer about blue hour is the mood of the images, the blue hour manages to give a unique atmospheres that no other time of day can give. In all these cases especially with the help of dramatic clouds it is a unique way to deepening the mood of images

2. Long Exposure

With coming dusk the exposure time lengthen, taking advantage of this conditions is the key point of blue hour, long exposure can completely transform the scene. For example in landscapes to benefit from the movements of clouds or water, in cityscapes with light trails

3. Combine Blue Hour with Golden Hour

Another aspect I love about blue hour is the chance to mix it with golden hour. In every sunset there is always a moment where the golden hour gives way to blue hour. The mood contains the power of blue hour and the warm as golden colours on the horizon

4. Light Trails

Light trails are one of the strongest composition of long exposure photography, especially the cityscape are particularly suitable for this kind of photos. Usually light trails are made during the blue hour, for this reasons it gives the chance of mixing the colors of blue hour and the yellows of city lights, two complementary and attractive colors for the viewer

5. Reflections

Blue hour is a great chance to capture reflections on the water, no matter if in the city or shooting landscape, the result is sure. During blue hour, reflections are amazing and taking advantage of this time of the day is the right time to deal with it

6. Look for Unique Light

Sometimes when the light is falling down a beautiful light can emerge, it’s a totally random and unexpected look that often occurs on very cloudy days but can completely transform your shots. This is the case of my photo taken in Amalfi when a coming storm contrasted with the last colors of the sunset creates a stunning and a unique light

7. Digital Blend

I’ve spoken about the chance to combine golden hour with blue hour while shooting, but we can do this also using Photoshop. In the image you see I have digital blended two different images with different lights, the warm colors of the golden hour and the cold one that characterizes blue hour, in a time that runs between about 30 minutes

8. Emphatize Blue Colours

It can be useful to increase the blue tones of the blue hour in our images, this to make images that are not in enough blue mood in order to increase the dark/blue atmosphere of our photo

We can proceed with the increase of the blue through the use of camera raw blue tones slider or through the use of Photoshop filters. Using TTS Pro Panel there are functions to increase the blue hour such as the golden hour through the application of selective filters that take advantage of luminosity masks


Crossroads

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As the first photo of 2021 I post a photo that I found from some of my old shots of the Dolomites, unfortunately in a period where is not easy to travel, my photographic resources are decreasing 🙂 but I always try to ensure new elements on all my social networks every week

This is small alpine lake, is one of my favorite mountain spots, if not one of the most photographed by me in the latests years, as in winter the surface of the lake freezes but without snow, a feature that I often look for in lakes in winter but it’s not easy to find anywhere. This is because the whole valley is crossed by icy currents but the altitude is not very high

About the shot I captured two series of exposures in focus stacking in order to have an image totally in focus, every series of exposure was done in bracketing mode, so I had the chance to digital blend every series before proceed with focus stacking

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I digital blended every exposure series before proceed to focus stack the shot to achieve a perfectly focused image. The next step was to add details and enhnace colours using TTS Pro dedicated effects

I fixed the highlights and shadows using  luminosity masks, I applied the same luminosity masks on curves to have a precise adjustment layer to enhance contrasts. I correct color cast on the sky and on the mountain, I pushed up some shadows on the forest and I slightly decreased the whole image luminosity

With hue/saturation tool I fixed more the colours and I created a small vignette using color efex pro filter

As always I hope you will find this usefull. I love to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 15mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


Let it Snow

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I found this photo from the photo album of my last trip to the Dolomites, almost a year ago now … an incredible snowy landscape and a magnificent backdrop of the Friulian Dolomites

I remember spending most of the day in this location from late morning until almost evening since the sky offered the most disparate facets that day, starting from an overcast sky up to openings full of wonderful light like this one

I made this shot with a focus stacking on only two points, foreground and background, capturing a series of exposures for each type of photo to capture as much dynamic range as possible

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I started with a digital blending between the two series of shots, than I merged the images into Photoshop in order to obtain one image with all focused points

I made the major adjustments using  luminosity masks on highlights, shadows and contrasts. I applied high details filters using TTS Pro, I also launched orton effect and glow tool in order to increase the glowing atmosphere of the image

I fixed color cast and I pushed up the warmth of the whole image increasing vibrance and yellow tones. With dodge and burn I lightened some areas around the trees and on the mountains

I darkened a bit the whole frame and I created some lighting spot on the main areas of interest using brush, as final step I a fixed the lasts lights using levels to better balance the image

I really hope you will find this usefull. I’m always happy to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 15mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


Side Walk

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Waterfalls and autumn are two elements that always get along very well. During the autumn season I always try to find some beautiful glimpses with waterfalls inside woods and small forests, the water as I wrote in my tutorial dedicated to autumn how to photograph the beauty of autumn colours ,is a very strong element for autumn shots

I took this photo without the help of any filter since the water flow was very strong and I didn’t want to risk an excessive loss of water texture

I used focus stacking in this photo by focus on the foreground and then on the rest of the scene, since the focus point was the same

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I create the shot to edit blending the shots needed for focus stacking. Also with this image for every focus point I take two exposures, darker and brighter in order to digital blend the shots before proceed with focus stacking

I increased the highlights coming from the aperture on the trees to increase the sense of glow in this picture and I pushed up orton effect and glow effect for this

I increased details selectively on the rocks and on the trees, with luminosity masks I fixed contrast and lights over the scene, I added glow in the scene also using the glow tool

As final steps I increased the color vibrance and pushed up the autumn colours

All the edits are done with my TTS Pro panel, I hope you will find this usefull. I always love to ear that from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 14mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 64 at f/11

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


The Touch

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Not so far from the city of Rome some forests still looks green, it will take some other week to turn to the beautiful autumn orange. Meanwhile, here is another image of a waterfall captured directly from its shore, the series of waterfalls in this area creates a deep pool of water on multiple levels

Since I was in a wooded area quite closed from light, I went here during the day with full daylight, to benefit from a brighter light to sufficiently illuminate the scene. From the right suddenly a strong light filtered towards the water and the leaves that were in front of me and that I used as the main subject of the foreground, as a touch of light in a darker scene

I capture this photo through focus stacking and perspective blending techniques, so I capture different focus on the scene and I blended togheder to obtain a perfectly focused frame, I already corrected the perspective with the waterfall using another waterfall picture with an undistorted perspective

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I captured 4 different focus point in the scene + another picture for the correct perspective of the waterfall + another one for saving the moving foliages

For every focus point I got two exposures darker and brighter that I used for digital blending. Once I composed the base working image, I started editing the image using TTS Pro. With luminosity masks I fixed the highlights and shadows in the frame and with dodge and burn I decreased all the strong lights in the frame

I used orton effect here, perfect for this kind of scenes and with the use of glow tool  I created some glowing lights in the picture. I increased the color vibrance, increased details and sharpness on the rocks and on the leafs

As final step I launched a soft vignette to favor the impression of a mysterious image to the viewer

As always I hope you will find this usefull! I love to ear that from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 14mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 64 at f/14

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


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Hi, my name is Giuseppe Sapori, a professional photographer and author of this website, created by yours truly to show my work and share with you the techniques I use. My expertise is in the field of Landscape Photography... (Read More)

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