The sun is going down…

Sunset at Nimfaio mountain, Greece | 26.10.2012
Sunset at Nimfaio mountain, Greece | 26.10.2012


  What can i say about this one…I had this photo printed for an exhibition and people certainly stopped and stared in awe. I received a ton of positive comments but there were also some comments that stuck with me: “This cannot be real”, “The sun and the rays were photoshopped into the image”, “Were you actually there?”…Hahaha…Well this photo is 100% real, nothing was photoshopped in it…I do understand that some people cannot understand how you can get such a result when shooting against the sun. To do this i used a tripod and took 9 bracketed shots covering the whole dynamic range of the scene. I used Photomatix to combine the shots and Photoshop to do some simple post-processing like adding more contrast, sharpness and warmth. The flare effect was created by the lens, no photoshop there. I don’t like to remove or add elements in my photos, the only thing i remove is dust spots and little birds that look like spots :p

  What’s your opinion about HDR? Do you think that an HDR image is fake even though it portrays exactly a moment in time?

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16 thoughts on “The sun is going down…

  1. Perhaps those who question the reality have never experienced the reality in question. For me, while this could be Photoshopped, that was NOT my first take on it prior to reading the post. HDR can be as valid a technique as the Zone System – just a tool to capture what the camera (or film) simply cannot. Yes, HDR can be overused to the point of unreality, but that is the prerogative of the person taking the shot. As an homage to your recent shots (and questions of reality) – my 200th post (tomorrow) will have a shot that will look fake – but it isn’t!

    1. Exactly my thoughts. I use HDR as a tool to overcome my camera’s limitations. The eye can adapt to any lighting situation depending on where you focus, so HDR is like having an eye that has adapted on all the different dynamic ranges at once. That doesn’t make anything fake. Sometimes i admit that i like to go a bit over the top with my editing (like with this photo) but that’s only because i want to recreate the strong feeling i had when i was present at the place. A flat image with washed out colors as my camera would see it, is not how it really was. Well i’m already curious to see your 200th post! Congratulations for reaching that number by the way! 🙂

  2. It is a great image and I can see why those who are ignorant could think it was a fake or too doctored. I am often asked similar questions and my photographs are much more humble than yours. The rays splitting like that is caused by the leaves in the aperture and is more pronounced the higher the f-stop. Since both your foreground and background are in fairly sharp focus I bet you were using something like an f-22. I like HDR but don’t use it personally. I think we all approach crafting an image from a different perspective. I have no qualms about doing minor editing after the fact but I do try to take the best possible photo from the lens and most of the photos I publish on my blogs have only minor editing in the way of noise reduction or sharpness adjustment. I see HDR as no different than stitching together multiple images to make a panorama. I don’t agree with your thoughts above about using HDR to overcome your camera’s limitations. You shoot with an excellent camera and obviously have created many wonderful photographs directly from the lens. HDR is just a way of taking a photograph to another level. I’m not quite so pure as National Geographic standards which basically only uses photos shot through the camera. In avoiding much post processing it causes you to think a lot more about the image you’re taking in the first place and for me at least, that’s a good challenge.

    Great topic for discussion.

    1. Thank you for your nice words! I really appreciate your comment. You are very correct about the rays, they are caused because of the aperture blades. I also thought i used a higher f-stop but according to the metadata it was only f/11, i guess the position of the camera also helped a little. When i started with photography i had a film camera and i had to use it in the first two years of my studies in photography. They were pretty old school and not so welcome of the digital era. We had no photoshop lessons whatsoever. So i come from an analog background, i know how to develop photos in a darkroom and i can still use a film camera. But i do prefer digital photography. I really like colors and i always found that with regular film it was almost impossible to get juicy colors (without any editing later). Only more expensive slide films had really nice colors. So i kinda had this “my green is never really green” attitude and digital won me over right away because i could have the colors exactly as i wanted. I shoot mainly HDR, most of the photos i uploaded here are HDR. I think it’s a great compliment when people don’t realize they are HDR right away. Other times as i mentioned i do like to over-process them a bit, if i believe that it will add something to the photo. When i say that i use HDR to overcome my camera’s limitations, of course i don’t mean that my camera is not capable of taking nice photos. I also try to get the best result right away and don’t want to depend on photoshop to “save” it later. BUT, there are some occasions like this one, that it would be absolutely impossible to capture this result straight from the camera. I could maybe take a nice photo of only the rays showing and all the rest would be black…I could maybe use an ND gradient filter to save some of the sky…but there is no way to get the result i envisioned at that moment without HDR. I think it’s a very useful technique but i think you need to know when to use it and when not. I don’t depend on HDR to get a nice photo but i like to have that option when i know that i can’t get the result i want otherwise 🙂

      1. I recently invested in a bunch of Cokin filters and found that they help you do amazing things with the sunset and the graduated ND filter is so easy to adjust for the right effect. Try it sometime when you get the chance. I do really love your images and think you have a very artistic eye and can’t help but think your past history with film makes you a better photographer today. I too used film years and years ago and had my own darkroom setup but I think it is much more fun (and WAY less expensive) now that we are in a digital age.

        1. Hmmm…So you are happy with the filters? Did you get that square type of filters that can be used on all lenses? I think i should invest into getting some good quality filters, i only have a polarizer. My priority at the moment is to get a wide angle lens, since i shoot mostly landscapes and buildings, interior and exterior. The 17mm on my Sigma 17-70mm…is not wide enough for most situations. Thank you again for your nice words! I do think that i was fortunate enough to start with film cameras, it makes you appreciate some things more now. People who only have digital background are missing the most basic and important part of photography in my opinion.

          1. I am very happy with the filters and yes they’re the square type that can fit on any lens but first you have to buy the fitting the screws into the lens cap and the cage that houses the filters. Each lens size (as in diameter) requires a screw in filter ring that the cage sits on but they are not too expensive.

            I have a Sigma 10-24 wide angle that I like and works great indoors and for buildings.

            1. Nice to hear that! Aha i see, thank you for the information. I will look into it and see how much it would cost here. I’m between the Sigma you mentioned and the Tokina 11-16, that i hear from everyone that it’s a great lens and it also has an aperture of 2.8, which can be very useful in low light situations. I some times shoot dancing shows and small concerts, so it might be good for this use. I still have to find the money somehow and then i can decide :p hehe

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