Photographing sunsets is something that most photographers enjoy. Some folks who choose to shoot in jpeg sometimes find it a challenge to get their sunset images to look dramatic. The is especially true if they do not make any adjustments in post. This article shows some simple examples of how changing white balance and adjusting exposure compensation can impact sunset images.
To demonstrate these impacts, all of the images in this article are out-of-camera jpegs with no other adjustments done to them.
It should be noted that how a photographer chooses to shoot an image involves a lot of creative latitude. What one photographer likes, another may not.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
The image above is the first in the series and was taken using Auto White Balance. Now let’s see what happens when white balance is changed to Incandescent.
As you can see the image has taken on a very strong blue cast, perhaps resembling a sunrise rather than a sunset. Now we’ll have a look at how setting the white balance to Fluorescent impacts the image.
Now we see more of a purple cast to the image when Fluorescent white balance is used. Let’s try the Sunlight white balance setting next.
Using a Sunlight white balance setting produced an image very similar to the first photograph where an Auto white balance setting was used. Now, let’s look at a Cloudy white balance version of the image.
We can see that the blues in the sky are not as vibrant and the orange/red cast is extending a bit further up in the clouds. Let’s try the white balance set to Shade.
In the image above we see that the blues in the sky are even more muted and the orange/red cast is now extending almost up to the top of the image.
None of these white balance adjustments is better or worse than another, they are just different. What you choose to use really comes down to your creative vision as a photographer.
Let’s take this one step further by using -1 EV exposure compensation with each of the white balance settings that we just viewed.
Using -1 EV may be a bit aggressive for some photographers and many folks could find that they may like using -0.3 EV or -0.7 EV better. Now let’s look at the remaining white balance settings all at -1 EV.
If you want to be a bit more creative when you photograph sunset images try adjusting your white balance and/or use some exposure compensation.
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All images were captured using a Nikon 1 J5 and a 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 VR zoom lens. A Benro A48FD monopod with Manfrotto 391RC2 head were used. All images in the article are out-of-camera jpegs with no adjustments of any kind made to them.
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