Landscape Photography – Plymouth Sunset, Devon

Last night I was sat in our living room watching the sun go down. I could see the rich red and orange hues were getting more and more vivid so decided to make a run for it.

Our new house is not far from one of the highest points in Plymouth and a great spot for keeping an eye on the skies. It means I can react quickly and get out with my camera before its to late.  I have spent hours and hours sat on cold beaches dodging waves and tides, waiting for the sun to drop only for a cloud to move in front of the sun or the sky to be to clear to get any real colour. I have got lucky a few times but often it comes to nothing. In my opinion a 50% of Landscape photography is luck or putting your self into a position where you may get lucky.
The technical side of things is equally as important, having the right equipment. A good sturdy tripod is essential.  To get the full colour spectrum available you’ll need a long exposure so the camera needs to be perfectly still.
Using a wide lens is very important as well. On a crop sensor I found 17mm is good or if your lucky enough to have a full frame body then 24mm seems to work well.

I always try to underexpose by about 1-2 stops otherwise the sky tends to blow out. This makes the foreground come out rather underexposed but a small tweak in post processing soon fixes that. I find getting the exposure correct for the sky is the priority as its the most dramatic part of the picture and the most likely to blow out with a normal exposure.  Also a longer exposure brings out colours that the naked eye can’t often see. Over a 3 or 4 second exposure all those colours ar flooding onto the sensor so when the picture flashes up I’m often amazed at some of the colours you just cant see.
People often ask or state. ‘ You must have enhanced the colours’ the answer is no, not really I sometimes even tone it down as it can look too unnatural. There is very little postproduction done on the images, perhaps a contrast boost and a bit of a mid tone boost to help the foreground. But this is deliberate due to my method of shooting

I do use filters but not on this shot. They are not coloured in anyway they are just used to block out some light. A bit like a pair of Sunglasses to enable me to get a longer exposure in brighter conditions. Once the sun has gone below the horizon I take them off as I can get the longer exposure naturally then.

I find its often worth hanging on after the sun has dipped as the exposure is far more straight forward and its often when the deep reds become visible and thats what I did last night. A quick run up the hill was well worth it.

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  • greg thurtle03/05/2012 - 14:44

    Lovely Colours Paul

  • John Starns03/05/2012 - 19:25

    Great shot Paul – really like it.

  • Phil Nunez03/05/2012 - 21:42

    Works a treat this does, love the colour of the sky against the street lights, really interesting blend of colour.

  • Peter Burkwood08/05/2012 - 15:27

    Ooooh nice shot Mr Andrews, cracking capture. Will be coming here soon for a family holiday, it best look like this!