Acadia Sunset - Turning Up the Volume

I recently returned from Acadia National Park, and I had a wide variety of weather, which made for a very productive trip. I had several foggy, drizzly days, which allowed me to shoot a lot of intimate small scenes, such as my last post, “Acadia Ground Cover”. I had a lot of fun with these small scenes, but sometimes the light and weather conditions just call for “Turning Up the Volume” (apologies to Eric Bennett for stealing the terminology from his recent article).

In New England there is a saying “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute

I was at this location 75 minutes before sunset shooting in very dense fog. About 50 minutes before sunset the fog cleared away to reveal dark gray clouds almost filling the sky. However, there was a tiny clear gap at the western horizon, and I waited. About 20 minutes before sunset, someone rolled up the curtain of gray clouds and the clear gap to the west rapidly expanded into this light show.

And God bless Canon Inc. for the sun-star on their 16-35mm f4 lens :grin:

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any critique and comments are welcome

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Canon 5 D MKIV, Canon 16-35mm f4 lens, ISO 100
Composite of 4 exposures blended with luminosity masks for dynamic range
bracket for landscape exposure had my finger over the sun to prevent flare

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

Fantastic light here Ed and I think you’ve done a great job in processing the dynamic range. No nits from me, I think this looks fantastic.

Glorious Ed, just glorious. And the clouds parted…

Dang it if I can’t find anything to suggest. Can’t even find a dust bunny to mention. Colors, processing, masterful.

And yes, that is one beautiful sun star.

Look harder in the water Lon, there has to be a lobster buoy or two in there, I’ve spent hours this week cloning lobster buoys out of my shots :wink:

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This is processed really well. It pays to be good at that sort of thing.

I do have a suggestion, though. It’s that circular white thing in the lower left quadrant. I imagine it’s surf. I would remove it or darken it.

Very nice image.

Ed, this is quite the sunset to witness, thanks for sharing it here! I love the color and details in the foreground rocks. Please save a few of these sunsets for me next month!
Beautiful work!

@Lon_Overacker @Alan_Kreyger @Igor_Doncov @Nathan_Klein thank you very much for your comments, I’m glad that you enjoyed this image. It was certainly a very special light show, and quite unexpected given the dismal weather only an hour before sunset. The weather can be very changeable in New England, but the confluence of mountains and ocean at Acadia makes the weather even more dynamic.

Alan, may the Acadia Photo Gods reward you with light like this in October. Any time the golden light hits these pink granite cliffs, you can’t go wrong.

Igor, that is a little bit of surf, thanks for the pickup, I’ll clone it away.

Glad to see you post this one after sending me that email with the couple of enclosed images. This is just outstanding from the the warm light on the pink Acadia granite to that superb sunstar in the cloud filled sky. I think I may head over to Schoodic for an evening shoot if the conditions look promising while there in October. I love the rugged coastline of Acadia and this shows it off beautifully. No suggestions from me.

Outstanding photo Ed. The processing is so spot on.

Great job Ed! The processing looks nice. It’s always rewarding when stubbornness/patience pays off.

Question for you - when you use luminosity masks for exposure blending, do you ever need to modify the masks or do touchups by hand? I feel like just using masks themselves often leave a lot of issues but yours looks great. Maybe I’m doing something wrong.

@Ed_Lowe @Youssef_Ismail @Brent_Clark thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, i appreciate your input.

I do a lot of LM blends, and for most of them I end up using a combination of LM’s plus mask modification / manual mask touchup.

In this Acadia image, I used 4 exposure brackets. One was at -3 exposure compensation to keep the immediate area of the sun from blowing out. This was blended into a -2 (or a -1, I forget which) compensation bracket for the sky. This was a good starting blend for the sky without modifying. But because the sky has very dark clouds to the left, and bright open sky to the right, I ending up painting at low opacity some of the -3 into the -2 on the right side, painting through an L2 selection to tone down highlights. These sky brackets were also manually focused on the distant mountain. I had a third bracket for the exposure and texture of the water, which I selected using the magic wand, combined with repeated low opacity white/black sweeps along the edges of the selection to feather away halos. A fourth exposure bracket was for the land, with my finger over the sun to prevent flare, and focused on the land. So this blend addressed dynamic range, focus stacking, and flare avoidance all at the same time. And after getting an initial blend, I did a lot of local dodging and burning in the land and clouds for tonal balancing and cloud contrast.

I view LM’s as a starting point to get an initial blend, then tweak it with manual painting on the mask, sometimes thru further LM selections, sometimes by hand. Of course all of this takes time, but I enjoy the process, sometimes I feel like a painter instead of a photographer. :wink:


Ed, this is such a beautiful scene that you have captured. I am sitting here enjoying it, and also the story behind it. So many times in photography, it is just being in the right place, at the right time, with the right equipment, ready, when nature shows off. This was one of those times! :+1::+1:

Ah thanks for going into such detail. That sounds about right with my experience. I’ve watched youtube tutorials where they’re like “look how easy this is!” and then apply a mask and it looks awful, haha. A little artistic painting seems necessary most of the time.

Wonderful image, Ed. Your careful technique in the field and processing is evident. I can’t see any way to improve. Inspiring work!

This is stunning Ed. I especially like the warm light on the foreground rocks. Your exposure of all the elements is very well balanced.