Sunset village in Jebel Akhdar, Oman
I took this picture on a recent trip to Oman on the Arabian Peninsula and I have chosen it as the first How-to-do images because there were a couple of different steps to getting the result.
First, I set up my camera on a ridge across the valley from this village. For the best result I used a tripod, which enables you to stabilise the camera in Low light and to select a composition with much more care than when handholding.
When taking pictures of Sunset, and especially sunrises, it's helpful to get an idea of the geographical location of yourself and your subjects. This way you'll know where the sun will set and how the light will be falling on the landscape.
For simple landscapes I'll just find out beforehand in what direction the sun will set, and then use a simple compass.
For more complex situations there are a couple of different apps for a smartphone, I use one called "the Photographers Ephemeris", available for iPhone. Here you can just enter your location and it gives you exact times and directions of Sunset and rise as well as for the moon.
When set up at a location, try to take a close look at the relief, where is the terrain higher and how is it located to the sunsets postition. This will enable you to find out where that last light of the day will fall.
The camera setup is pretty easy when on a tripod. As I don't have the risk of camera shake, I can use the ISO on the camera's native setting, which on my Nikon is ISO 100.
The aperture is set at f/8, to get the whole plateau in focus, and the time is accordingly set, in this case to 1/50 of a second.
tip: When shooting landscapes, or when you want as much in focus as possible, the easiest way (without a calculator and a cheatsheet) is to use an aperture of f/8 or smaller (e.g f/11 or f/16) and focus at a point approximately one third into the image. That will get you as close as possible to hyperfocal distance.
On this overview shot shortly before the final image was shot, you'll probably recognize the village on the right, sitting on a plateau.
Now it was time to get the correct composition, so as to get the last couple of light-rays to hit the village itself, whereas the surrounding terrain is already in dark shadow.
A nice touch was the that the rock wall in the back, being positioned in a southeast-northwesterly direction also got some of those last, nicely directed sun-rays.
To get an even more contrasty feel of the image, I've also used a polarization filter on the lens. A Polarizer only lets lightwaves through that come in a specific polarized direction, which often happens in reflected light. By turning the Polarizer-filter on the lens, it's possible to capture the light in a way to increase the light from directly lighted objects (the village and it's surrounding foliage) coming through to the sensor, giving it more pop and more importance in the composition.
Ok, so now it was just a matter of the right timing to get this image.
Let's get to the post-processing, or development of the picture.
When taking pictures, I always record the in the RAW format, which gives the most bitdepth, or say quality, available for editing. My go-to Software is Adobe Lightroom to catalog and process the RAW-files. In it's development Module it's a matter of a couple of minutes to add some contrast, setting the black- and white-points and to adjust the saturation and vibrance to taste.
By setting a subtle Vignette, the effect of the glowing Village is even more noticeable.
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