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Seaside sunset/sunrise photos with rocks and long exposure water.

Posted 26/03/2018 - 18:48 Link
Hi all,

How do people get on with the varying range of light and dark in seaside sunset/sunrise photos with rocks and long exposure water running around them?

Iím thinking grad filter for the brighter sky.

Or off camera Flash (shock horror :wink or Light Painting.

Or multiple exposures blended in photoshop afterwards.

Or single long exposure with shadows lifted on Post.

Sorry I donít have an example image, but will find one if needed. Really keen to head out at sunset, and want to be armed with some concepts beforehand if possible. Thanks.
Posted 26/03/2018 - 19:34 Link
Hi Richard,

I don't have the answers but would too welcome advice.

I have found that a ND grad is useful BUT that the soft ones are less effective than the hard ones. I carry a Kood ND4 Neutral grey which is two stops.

I have a four stop ND for water but never really used it. Dull old England often allows say F20 and a slow shutter speed anyway.

I have used circular polarisers to pull the blue and clouds in skies.

I gave up lugging the Cokin filter holders around and just hold the filters in front of lens. No doubt frowned upon but it works for me.

Generally as a traveller I take as little kit as possible (current shoulder bag three lenses a K3II spare batteries and around 2.4 compact kilos) so i'll probably never get into all this much. For landscapes and seascapes I try to keep the ISO as near to base as possible as this improves the dynamic range of course.
Posted 26/03/2018 - 20:08 Link
With sunsets with a flat horizon like you would get in this situation reverse grads ( are supposed to be the way to go. These reduce the light most where its brightests.

I dont get to the sea very often so i dont have any examples of my own.
Posted 27/03/2018 - 20:43 Link
Since moving to Pentax with the K7 I have experimented with blended exposures and HDR techniques for this type of image (ie where the dynamic range is still high, even in fairly low light, with shadowed foreground and brighter sky to restrain). Before on film I used ND Grads. The processing options with digital seemed to be begging for use, and are attractive given the extra time and fiddling around needed with filters at the time of capture.

However, whilst I have been happy with some of the results I have obtained with blended and HDR techniques, in general I have to say that the best professional grade landscapes I've seen taken on digital are still those that use traditional high quality filters. For example, take a look at the work of this guy over at PentaxForums, username The Madshutter .....


.... there's a lot about his technical approach that is obviously optimal, but the use of ND Grads, and good ones at that, is a big part of it.

The biggest issue with Grads is of course horizons with protruding objects (the classic example being a jagged mountain range protruding into the sky, wreaking havoc with your lovely controlled exposures) .... however no doubt with some processing the poor effects of this could be smoothed over with some subtle dodging where the darker bits have intruded.

The use of off camera flash is quite a good idea really, although I'd say it applies mainly to situations where your foreground is not lit . Ideally you'd want some nice gentle light on your foreground interest, and the composition would be constructed around this as a feature. However there are situations where you can't get any light where you want it, although the background might be nicely lit. One example I seek out is in woodlands and forests, where the DR can be extreme, with no light reaching the ground but very bright open sky peeking through the dense trees.

Here's an example of where I've set the ambient exposure for the background but used off camera flash to light up the foreground stuff ...... there would not really have been a picture without some light falling on the things near to the camera ....

Comment Image

This thread I posted is about balancing ambient backgrounds with flash lit foreground, so might be of some technical interest in this context .....


Finally, as I said earlier, I have been happy with some results using HDR and exposure blending techniques. Here's a couple using an exposure blend, sky / ground....

Comment Image

Comment Image

And this one is a more extreme DR challenge, so In tried HDR processing
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver
Edited by McGregNi: 27/03/2018 - 21:13
Posted 27/03/2018 - 22:20 Link
Using the bracketing option is useful for landscapes or seascapes with a definite horizon, And blended in Photoshop or a like program later. But I always feel like using filters and getting it right in camera makes you a more confident photographer. and far more rewarding. Though I do accept it makes the bag heavier.. Essentials for me polarizer. 0.9 three stop ND Grad. ND64 to slow water. IE waterfalls.. ND1000 to flatten water, lots of cloud movement. I do find the cheaper resin filters pretty useless creating a lot of Photoshop work in colour correcting. But if your only an occasional landscaper the good ones are expensive.. And most, the glass ones do break if you drop them..

With newer lenses like the DFA 15- 30 or the Irix lenses coming onto the market.. That need a slightly different holding bracket.. A careful decision has to be made when choosing your filter system...
K-1Gripped K-1 ungripped K-5ii K7 Various lenses

Edited by stub: 27/03/2018 - 22:24
Posted 27/03/2018 - 22:36 Link
Thanks for all the info guys. Really appreciate the detailed responses.

I have some new angles to think about now. Thank you.
Posted 27/03/2018 - 23:51 Link
The idea of off camera flashes is quite interesting; each flash would freeze the water, and you'd get a multiple exposure (rather than long exposure) effect. It could look awful, but it would at least be original. Foreground rocks etc would be supernaturally pin-sharp.
Posted 28/03/2018 - 08:59 Link
Hi Richard,

If you are looking for something like this,

Comment Image

This image is at dusk. Tripod mounted, a soft 3 stop ND grad filter, and a 6 stop ND filter if memory serves me right. The lens is stopped down, manual focused, and focused about a third of a the way in. I also check the focus with live view, and adjust as required. The filter system is a square Nisi, which screws into the filter thread. Easier done when it is still light, and not getting dark. Use a solid tripod, and 2 second timer, or a remote as well.

Hope this helps.


Armed with a K3, some M, A, FA, DA, and star lens. With an eye open for "just one more lens".

My PPG link
Posted 05/04/2018 - 10:58 Link
this guy has a couple of interesting methods which i may try at some point
odd lens or 2


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