Capturing all the drama.

August 28, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Capturing all the drama



Welcome back, it’s been a while.

With autumn on the way the Sky over Southport is going to get a lot more dramatic at Sunset than it has been over the summer months. Saturday was one such night. As the evening drew in it was becoming pretty apparent the Sky was going to be lit up with the setting Sun back lighting the large cloud formations forming off the North West coast.

I grabbed my camera bag and set off to the Sea front.

First off, choice of gear.


My workhorse camera body, Fujifilms excellent XT3, it’s been superseded by two newer generations but this is still a very capable camera.

Lens choice, just two, my Fujifilm 10/24mm for those wide vistas plus for detail and zooming into the shoreline shots, my Fujifilm 70/300mm.

All fit nicely into my Domke camera bag.

Now you can capture sunsets on your phone and if you have read my previous blog there are some hints and tips on how to do this. But I much prefer my camera, for a number of reasons.

One, I just like using my camera gear it gives me much more control over the image and is just so much nicer to use. Two, on a technical level the image sensor is so much larger which gives me more dynamic range (the difference between light and dark) so the quality of the final image will be much better. That dynamic range come is very handy photographing Sunsets where you have the bright Sun and deep dark clouds.

Your eyes have a much greater dynamic range that any camera can see outside of kit NASA use. So we have to balance what the camera can see.

 My camera captures the image in what is termed a RAW file, unlike most phones which capture in what is known as a jpeg. With a RAW file (No, it’s not an acronym, its just a term) I capture light and colour values which will enable much more latitude in the edit stage. With a jpeg these values are essentially baked into the image, so can be restrictive when editing.

So parked up and ready to go, I just look for a decent composition (all the elements within the image, how much cloud, what part of the cloud, do I include some beach etc). Once that is decided I set my camera. I have three values to consider.

ISO, how sensitive the sensor is to light, the lower the value the higher quality of image. but this can be raised as it gets darker.

Aperture, how much of the image will be in focus.

Shutter speed, will this be fast enough to allow enough light in to the sensor and reduce the effect of camera shake, more when zoomed out to 300mm when the slightest movement of my hand holding the camera is amplified at the point of focus. Offset slightly by Fuji’s lens stabilisation system. Which allows a slower shutter speed while keeping the point of focus sharp?

My top tip when photographing sunsets is to under expose the image slightly to save the highlights (bright bits) blowing out and being so bright there is no retrievable data.I can retrieve data in dark area like clouds but much less so in super bright areas.

Once I have my images its home for a brew and a sit down, ill sort the images out in the morning.

Now comes the edit, all the images are copied onto my computer and I open my image edit software which for me and so many other photographers is Adobe Lightroom. A powerful bit of software, which will enable me to edit the image to my taste, hopefully staying true to what I saw with my eye.

If you photograph with RAW you require some sort of software to edit unlike Jpeg which as I mentioned is essentially the final image (unless you slap an Insta filter over it, but that’s for another blog).

Just to compare the capture to the final image, here we have the two images. You will notice the capture is quite flat in appearance, not much detail. It’s all there , I just have to bring it out.

Image at capture


Image once in Lightroom no adjustment all values set to zero.


Edited image


Image in Lightroom with adjusted values, see the sliders to the right of the image.


Once I have adjusted the exposure to where I want it to be (and remember it’s all subjective, what I like others may not). Take down the highlights, open up the shadows and dial in some detail. I can then work on the light values to bring out what my eye saw. This involves brightening up the blues, greens and purples which adds the detail I could see in the clouds. Not too much otherwise it just looks over cooked and to processed. Which is why I have left saturation alone. Phone cameras have a tendency to over saturate the colours making them much more vibrant so they pop of the screen. This is usually a dead giveaway as to if the image has been caught on phone.

Its then just small, adjustments before saving to my hard drive and posting on the Socials, Facebook etc.

So is it cheating, well not really? I don’t just want to capture what I see but what I felt the image should be at the moment of capture.

Is it photo shopped, well no? I didn’t require the image to go into Photoshop, but if it required I would. I’m not editing for the papers, but for myself. I still try to maintain a reality to the image, so no false colours and I endeavour to keep the edit subtle.

Anyway a little behind the image look into how the image is captured and edited.

Thanks to everyone who has kindly commented on the posts.

Till next time, Dave