Sunset Stack

One of the features I most appreciate with my flashed router and DSLR Dashboard Setup is how easy it is to create set of bracketed exposures. When these exposures are combined, the best details from each can be combined, leading to a photograph no one exposure can present. I typically use this technique when I’m shooting interiors like church sanctuaries 1, but I get the most use of it when I’m capturing sunsets or moonrises 2.

Last night was absolutely stunning here on the Delaware River, so my friend and I headed down to the bank to capture some photos as the Sun dipped below the horizon 3. Just as I was about to shift my location, I set up a five exposure bracket I could stack when I returned home 4. These individual exposures can be seen in the gallery below. Each exposure has some interesting elements, but no single exposure contains all the details present in the field of view. Exposure details for each photo are given in the description. Each was taken with my Nikon D7000, at 66mm on my 18-105mm lens. The ISO was 200 and the f-stop was at ƒ10.

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This is where stacking the exposures came into play 5. I selected my five exposures and told Lightroom to make me an HDR photo 6. After tweaking some settings, the photo below was the end result. I love everything about it, from the reflection off the river to the subtle lens flare. The only thing I might do is increase the saturation in the sky, just to make the gradient tones a bit more noticeable.

An HDR photograph of the Riverton Boat House at Sunset

  1. The highlights of stained glass have much different needs than the darker elements of the room. 
  2. I actually need to do some more moonrises this Summer. 
  3. We always wait until its too late to walk, which means no exercise credit on my watch. This must be rectified as the Summer progresses. 
  4. Making these photos the last five from that location helps me to remember which exposures were part of the stack. 
  5. Lightroom calls this A “Photo Merge” because a stack refers a different function in the software. 
  6. HDR is “High Dynamic Range.” At a base level, it gives a developer a much wider range of controls over things like highlights and shadows. Silhouettes can have details brought out without washing out the brighter highlights in a sunset sky, for example.