Get The Most Bang For Your Buck on a Sunset Photo Shoot

If you’re shooting sunset at a location that lends itself to moving around AND if you enjoy photo processing, here’s a quick tip for maximizing the impact of an evening’s shoot: MOVE your butt around – and process each photo differently. The latter is if photo processing is your bag, of course. All the image in this post were taken during the same sunset photo adventure. I made a point of moving as quickly as I could through the time before, during and after sunset to snag as much variety as I could. I’ll show you some examples next – clicking on the images will let you see them larger if you like, too.

And for the curious amongst you, the next 6 images were all processed as HDR images…

TheSweep
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The Chat with Karen Hutton: Matt Kloskowski

Matt Kloskowski is a super awesome professional photographer, photography and Photoshop instructor for the world-renowned Kelby Media Group. He travels all over, spreading the good word about Lightroom and Photoshop to audiences numbering in the hundreds, all over the country. He’s like an encyclopedia of knowledge and awesome know-how in the world of photography.

He’s also a regular guy and my friend.
Matt was in California to give a Lightroom workshop for an audience of 400 (!), so he called me up to go shooting. We hit Lake Tahoe, which also seemed a lovely and fitting spot to do our Chat.

This particular Chat really is just that… a chat about a bunch of different topics from photography to family to thoughts about life. It was all very informal and laid back, which was so fun. You’ll also get to see a slew of Matt’s photos, which are, as you might imagine… stunning!! Plus… you and I get to drive over together an pick Matt up. HeeHee… and fun new experiment I tried.

Enjoy!

My Photo, My Life

Photo As Metaphor

This photo is so metaphoric for where my head’s been at lately. Reflecting. Looking at things right side up – then them over to change my perspective. Feeling a bit murky, but upon looking closer noticing the patterns, interesting colors and mood woven into my life. Light right behind the murk, lending its ever-present glow to everything it touches; sending out quiet beams of brilliance. For all the murk… clarity. Order. Beauty. Stuff to see below the surface. Quiet. Calm. And for the way it “just so happened” that I was here for this moment… the element of miracles and delightful surprises.


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Changing Moods

Monochrome on the Brain

I’ve had monochrome on my mind lately. Not really sure why, I suppose it’s like anything else that floats through your muse’s consciousness for consideration.

I’ll be honest and say that I did shoot this auto bracketed, imagining it might end up as a color HDR image. I shot a whole series this day to great success that way. But I was struggling with it, since I didn’t like the way the colors looked, the textures responded… it was kind of strange, actually. And annoying, since I couldn’t seem to get fresh eyes on the situation. I loved the image, just not where it was going.

Then, since I just posted yesterday about playing with monochrome, I decided to find my fresh eyes with a black and white conversion. I was completely surprised by the result! In particular, I loved what the light did.

TheHush
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Color or Monochrome?

Plan A, Hijacked

I was heading elsewhere this day; intending to shoot sunset (if there was one) at another location. But when I looked over and espied this scene, all other plans went out the proverbial window! I love matching reflections… strong cloud formations… and an almost surreal/abstract arrangement of elements when they happen naturally. It’s magic! (and this day, certainly one of my daily miracles. Especially since the west hasn’t even SEEN clouds for months!)

Unbroken
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Icons and Perspective

Let’s Go Shoot An Icon!

A photographer friend was in town, so we headed out to Bonsai Rock at Lake Tahoe to shoot some sunset action.
Bonsai Rock is a bit of an icon. Google it and you’ll see what I mean.

We’re having an incredibly dry winter in the Sierra Nevada mountains… which means no snow where there should be MANY feet of it! It also means that Bonsai Rock and other locations around Tahoe are unusually accessible right now in winter. Which further means… we had LOTS of photographer company one Thursday night in January at Bonsai Rock. They were a quiet, tense, kind of cranky and definitely territorial bunch. Hey, I wished we’d had the place to ourselves too… but what the heck. Roll with it! There’s plenty for everyone. Sigh.

But Don’t JUST Shoot An Icon

My friend Lisa Donchak and I tried to lighten up the mood. Said hello as we moved about making multiple compositions amidst the “butt campers” as I like to call them.  I refer to the practice of finding a spot, setting up camp and possessing it like you own the very air molecules surrounding it. But I figure, why go to all the trouble of getting there only to walk away with one shot? Oh well, I’m sure they have their reasons.

This was one of my non-Bonsai blue hour images. I love the way Tahoe light and color is so blocky and clean at that time. And the moon! Cool.

Sierra RocksLake Tahoe, NevadaThe big rock shining above the little ones below.It was a rocky night... but oh-so-gorgeous!
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Making Post-Processing Decisions

Decisions, Decisions

I love post-processing photos. Since my approach to photography means creating my own vision or “take” on what I see, I have no problem processing a photo in dramatic directions and find it all incredibly satisfying. I was raised in an artistic family, so I guess that just got baked into me. By the same token, I was trained classically in photography, revere Nature and have learned that sometimes Nature does all the work for you. When that happens, you really shouldn’t mess with perfection.

Such was the case on this day:

Nature is such a drama queen sometimes.
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The Bonsai Rock Mission

Avoiding Bonsai Rock: “all that” or merely insecure?

Bonsai Rock on Lake Tahoe, Nevada side is an icon. An endless stream of photographers has been to this spot to shoot this very rock it seems; its wee stunted pine trees doing their mightiest to grow out of a crack in the granite. Just do a Google image search for “Bonsai Rock Lake Tahoe” and watch an endless scroll of photos populate the page.

I have a strong streak of rebellion that resists shooting places like this that EVERYBODY seems to need to photograph.
Or perhaps it’s insecurity masquerading as a mock blasé attitude so I can pretend it doesn’t really matter.
I mean it DOESN’T really matter in the grand scheme of things… right?

Taking the Leap

And yet… when my good friend and über fabulous photographer and teacher Matt Kloskowski came out to teach a Lightroom workshop in Sacramento, he made an extra day to shoot at Tahoe. He called me up and said he wanted to do Bonsai Rock – and of course, I said “I’ve never shot it either!” Like it just sorta happened that I never shot that stupid rock… or had just been SOOOOO busy (and don’t forget ‘important’) that I never had time to make it out there. Nevermind that in almost 20 years of living in, I only just figured out where it is this year! Granted, I wasn’t actively doing the kind of photography I am now most of that time, so that’s my official excuse… but still.

Personally, I think Bonsai Rock is a better sunset spot than sunrise. So we hit it shortly before sundown.

Even granite boulders have families, right?I'm going to imagine it just that way.
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Fun With Nicole & Brian

It was such a blast getting to do an episode of The Chat with Nicole S. Young! We actually recorded that one awhile back. She was one of my first intrepid friends to step up as I was still working out my format, flow and style for the show. Nicole is fearless – and she proved that by helping me my Chat project off the ground!

Later on in the summer, she and hubby Brian Matiash came up for a weekend with Kodak the Wonder Dog and joined me and my hubs Joe Dolister for some hangin’ and shootin’ fun. One of the places we went was the abandoned train tunnels above Truckee, in the Sierra Nevada mountains. They’re fun and spooky – and are full of the work of graffiti artists who change the wallscape up there on a regular basis. Here, Nicole paused for a pose!

NicolesyInTheLight

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Captain Hook & The Bay of Emeralds

I have a wonderful friend named Annette Biggers who photographs weddings. Brilliantly. And she does this other really cool thing; fairy tale photo shoots. She has a whole philosophy about why she likes to do this… and it’s awesome deep. One day she called up and said “I want to do ‘Captain Hook at Emerald Bay'” (Lake Tahoe, in the area where I live)… “And I want you to do some HDR photos!” Well, of course I said “YES!” I was really excited, since I’ve loved Annette’s work since the day I laid eyes on it… and the idea of getting to play in that realm AND do some HDR had me bouncing up and down. Literally!

Cap'nHook

She picked up the costume in Los Angeles, at a shop that rents them for movies and such. She chose a few spots around the lake from photos I’d taken previously, and away we went. Her son Daniel was a fabulous Cap’n and put up with us setting him up in all kinds of positions all day long! What a gem.

I used a shallow depth of field for this, so the background would blur out. Shot 7 bracketed exposures, combined them in Photomatix. That created my base image… then I went to town with NIK Software, onOne Perfect Effects 4, some Photoshop techniques and Lightroom too. But here’s the thing when you do HDR on a person… don’t HDR the face! The process makes skin look strangely gritty and unnatural. I used one of the mid-range raw exposures for Daniel’s face, making sure to lighten and brighten his eyes just a little. The costume lent itself particularly well to the process, which made all the details in the fabric and necklace really pop. I wanted an old fashioned movie poster vibe – but with more modern colors and details. I love how it turned out – and want to do more! Don’t know when I will, but it was sure fun to play and experiment with a type of photography that I don’t do very often.

Tried anything new lately?