How not to shoot a sunset

I learned a couple things about aperture, light and shooting sunsets today. I don’t think I fully understand what I sort of figured out but here goes.

I walked out of my office this evening and saw this amazing sunset. I carry my Nikon D5100 with me every day now and, today, I just had my 50mm f1.8 lens. I had to capture the sunset and my first set of photos were shot with the wrong settings. I shot these at f2.0 and ISO 200. The result is a set of totally blown out and distorted photos.

I dropped the ISO to 100 and closed the aperture a bit to f3.5 and the results were much better:

I took it a little further and shot the next set at f5.6 and kept the ISO at 100. The difference wasn’t as dramatic but these photos captured what I was seeing far better than my first set:

I love my 50mm lens and shooting around f1.8 and f2.2 but I didn’t realise what effect that had on the exposure and light (well, I know that the more open the aperture the more light comes in but assumed that the shutter speed would compensate a lot more).

This exercise was really helpful to me and between this little shoot and another I did with my slower kit lenses 2 weeks ago reminds me that I have a lot to learn about some basics and also that I could learn to use those kit lenses far better and take some really rich photos.

I wrote about a post Simon Dingle published almost a year ago about kit lenses and his thoughts about not bothering with them. Mine are certainly slower than my 50mm lens but this experience this afternoon inspires me to spend a lot more time with those kit lenses which actually give me some pretty good images. I also need to carry around all my lenses, not just my little pet 50mm f1.8 lens.

Of course, I also have a lot to learn about light, aperture and shutter speeds. This was a really good experiment, I think.





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