Sunset at Corona Del Mar. What would you do to improve this image?

this location is a little challenging because of the intervening rocks and breakwater leading to Newport Harbor. I did a low opacity clone of the sky on the sun to lessen the bright white. Not sure if it is negatively noticeable. In retrospect the settings seem funky for a photo of this type. I had my second camera on the tripod with the 14-24 lens and my better shots were those I took hand held while experimenting with settings. While this is posted in Landscape, there are incidental man-made elements.
Nikon D850 Nikon 70-200 70mm ISO 400 hand-held 1/3200 f/4.0. aperture priority white balance auto
It was processed in Lightroom CC, Photoshop 2018 CC, NIK and TK

What would you do to improve this image?

Hi Patrick,

This is a beautiful shot, but I’ll give you my $0.02 of what I might do if it were mine. The first thing I find is that the clouds above the sun at the very top sort of pull my eyes out of the frame. I would either crop or clone those out. Secondly, it feels like the image is leaning a tiny bit to the right because of that strong horizontal shore line near the top. I would level that out a bit even if this is showing reality. Another thought to get you started would be to bring out a little bit of the shadow detail. Give some of that a try and others may chime in with a few additional thoughts. I do really love the water and light in this image as well as the interesting foreground. Great stuff!

Erik, thanks so much. I can’t wait to follow your suggestions. Your feedback was spot on.

I agree with Erik’s comments, Patrick. Using TK’s Darks masks, you should be able to pull more detail out of the foreground. I also agree about the cloud at the top.

The color looks great, and it’s a nice scene, indeed.

When I lived in SoCal, I spent a lot of time at Corona Del Mar, Newport, and Balboa–always fun.


Quite a lovely ocean sunset image. Erik’s suggestions are excellent - and I would even say that his suggestions are “tweaks” rather than major improvements. I mean there’s not a whole lot to improve on. I would agree that the rock up top is a bit dark; in fact maybe the whole image is slightly dark. The tilted horizon is also minor, but I noticed as well.

I’m really enjoying the highlights in the water, especially in the tidal stream and rock at the bottom. And in this case I like the fact that you’ve stopped the rolling action of the wave allowing the highlights to stand out.

If anything regarding the top, I might be inclined to want just a little bit more sky - rather than crop. But that’s subjective of course.


Patrick, a lovely image. I would say follow Eric’s suggestions. 'Nuff said.

Lon, thank you for taking the time to comment. I am often blind to my nits until they are pointed out.

Phil, nice to connect with you again. Thnx😊

Still there usually with the birds and the flowers. Since the SE Lower Coastal Plain is basically flat and we don’t have Buffalo or Elk, I have to make do with marshes and swamp. But it’s good to hear from you again. I do plan to get out of my rut and make more critiques in other areas on the site. Good to hear from you!

See if these changes addressed your concerns. I had not cropped from the top of the image, so absent using content aware, this is what we have. Thanks for your help. You improved my image.

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I think we all fall prey to that… one works on an image for so long and pretty soon we can see what others might see right away. No problem!


I think you got everything covered from the already suggested comments above. This type of photograph is hard to pull off in the first place because of the incredibly wide dynamic range. In the days past when film was king, all the shadowed areas would have been solid black and silhouetted. Trying to get some details in those shadows would have been impossible and still retaining detail in the brighter areas. With the D850, I am sure you can coax some detail out of those shadows. The real question I think you need to ask is, do you want detail in those shadows or is a silhouette better? It comes down to what your intent behind the photograph was? In any case it would be interesting to see if going back and digging some of the shadow detail in including it in this image would improve it.

I’m late to the party but ill add my two pennies. The repost is a big improvement. I think the dark shadows work for this shot, as photographers we often expect shadow detail cause we know we can get it out of today’s RAW files, but the mood here works better with the darker silhouette in my opinion. The only thing might have done differently is a slight crop just left of the top rock, to bring the sun line closer to the 1/3 point, this feels more harmonious to me.

You have captured my thinking about this image. I purposely kept the foreground sand dark as I wanted to lead the viewer to the leading line of the stream reflection toward the sun. Your statement about intent and silhouette is correct. The next question might be, “If you wanted to keep the foreground in silhouette, why did you make the change?” My answer to that is that I often see people and perhaps myself at times react defensively when we get feedback. I know I am frustrated giving or watching others give feedback when the person receiving is resistant to any effort to help, despite asking for help. I don’t want to be that person. I want to honor the suggestions others make and to be open to their ideas. In this case, I think the image was improved by cloning the cloud above the sun, and is OK with the brighter sand, although that was not my original intent. I respect all the people who have commented and want to encourage them to continue to do so. Many thanks for your effort expressing an opinion that was not exactly in the flow of the others.


Thank you for taking the time to write. I feel affirmed by your statement about the silhouette, and agree with your suggestion about the crop.

enjoy your holiday.