Another beautiful end to another beautiful day
So far the summer up here in Adams, NY has been amazing. The warmest days have only been about 90° with relatively low humidity and the lows dropping into the low 60s/high 50s at night. And, each night we get treated to a sunset like this right off our back porch!
Taken hand-held with my Canon 30D and 17-40 f/4L @ 17mm, f/8, ISO 100 and 1/20 second. I chose f/8 to balance really crisp details with a hand-holdable shutter speed at ISO 100. I typically use the 2X focal length rule for hand-held shots (i.e.: 17mm X 2 = 1/34 sec) but I often find that I can push it a bit slower with wide angle shots like this if I just control my breathing and brace myself well by pulling my elbows into my body and/or lean against a stationary object. In this case I could have easily dropped to f/5.6 and 1/30 sec and gotten the same results but the first shot came out sharp so I just used it.
Post processing in Lightroom basically involved adding a Graduated Filter mask to the top third of the image to darken the sky up a bit (reduced Exposure), boosting the Vibrance and Saturation to get the colors to pop and tweaking the Tone Curve into more of an S shape (bump up Highlights and Lights, scale back Darks and Shadows). I added a little sharpening and noise reduction (to smooth out the noise introduced by some of the tweaks above) and then used the Graduated Filter tool to add the black bars to the top and bottom of the image – you do this by placing the Graduated Filter center point where you want the edge of the black bar, close the fade area down to almost nothing, then adjust the Exposure slider to -4.00 (maximum dark).
The goal of all of this was to emphasize the contrast and color of the clouds against the sky while silhouetting the trees in the foreground to produce a nice horizon line. The only real difference between this processed image and what I actually saw is the lack of shadow detail in the foreground. My eyes could pick out more detail in the tree line but I felt that detracted from the beauty of the sky so I blacked it out.