Friday, March 28, 2014

When Still Life Comes Alive

One of the best things about the end of day at our old summer haunt, was climbing out onto the rocks to watch the fading sun. As it dropped below the horizon the brilliant colours were reflected in the gentle ripple of the water, while silhouetted seagulls floated across the sky.

This week, I focussed each and every blog on sunsets and sunrise, from photography and illustration to how tos with cameras and Photoshop.  But while the beauty can be captured through a lens, with a paintbrush, or using an image editor, the ebb and flow of Mother Nature and the life around her are stilled.

So, to take my theme across the entire five days and complete what became a rather fun series, I have now looked to the wonderful AnimationFactory,  the best online source for animated clipart, PowerPoint templates, backgrounds and videos, to see what happens when the wonder of an illustrated sunset is no longer still.  Here's what I found:

Animated Sunsets/Sunrises

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Top Sites for Sunset Illustrations

Well, in keeping with what has developed into a theme this week, there is probably one more offering I can make regarding the topic of sunrises and sunsets.

As already discussed, it is one type of art to capture the perfect twilight or dawn through the lens of a camera; it is another to enhance that photograph with editing software to create an image that is just a little more... well, more.

But there is yet another way of preserving this natural beauty — through art. One of the most strikingly lovely paintings to me is Monet's Impression Sunrise. I am by no means a connoisseur of fine art, nor would I say I have a strong appreciation for it. I don't know why a particular piece would speak to me. I just know that if it does, I listen.  Monet's Sunrise makes me feel things — a loneliness without desolation, a calm intensity.

Those feelings reaffirm to me the power of this particular subject, regardless of the medium it's depicted in. During business hours I reside in a world of online clipart. Here too, sunrises and sunsets have been the muses for many of the talented illustrators whose work is featured there.  Like the photographer, they are struck by what they have already seen; like the artist there is no limit to what they can do with that through imagination and creativity.

Here are just a few examples:

iCLIPART.com Sunrises, Sunsets

Acclaim Images Sunsets and Sunrises

Clipart.com Sunrise/Sunset

ClickArt Online Sunrise/Sunset

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Transform a Sunset With These Tutorials

So I've talked about beautiful sunset/sunrise photos and about how to take them. But what if your best efforts still aren't enough? What if what you see in the picture doesn't even come close to the splendour you saw in daytime's waning light?

On a recent trip to the French River, my husband and I were watching a spectacular sunset taking shape over the water. My camera was ready and thanks to digital photography and no concerns any more about wasting film, I went snap happy.

When the time came to load the pictures on my computer after our return home days later, however, I was less than impressed with the results. The colours that night had been strikingly vivid and distinct; the ones in the photo on the other hand were flatter, rather muted by comparison.

Once upon a time you pretty much had to take what you got. These days, however, image editors can help us enhance any photograph, including the glorious colours that come with the rising and setting sun. In a very short time, I was able to turn that picture into a true representation of what I'd seen that evening.

Here are some tips and techniques to give you the power to transform a sunset:

Enhance Sunset with Photoshop CS6

Editing Sunrise

How to Enhance a Sunset Photo

Fix Common Sunset Photos in Photoshop

Use a Gradient Map to Enhance a Sunrise

Enhance Sunset Photos in 10 Minutes

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tips for Photographing Stunning Sunsets and Sunrises

In the missive posted yesterday I talked about the beauty of sunrises and sunsets and what, if any, the difference might be.  I know I'm not sure I'd recognize one from the other in a photograph. I just know that when it comes to something wonderful to see through my camera lens, either or works for me.

I first began photographing this natural phenomenon about 30 years ago where we summered on the shores of picturesque Lake Huron, an area renowned for some of the world's most glorious sunsets.  Yet, no matter what,  the end result never quite did justice to the amazing depth and colour of the vision that had been displayed before me. Night after night we sat out on the rocks at the end of the pier and waited for, not just the heavenly performance, but for something extra that might set a photo apart from others.

In the years since, there have been many sunsets caught by my lens. Ironically, one of my favourites really had been entirely focused on another subject. The end of that particular day found my little grandson and me down on the beach at a family cottage. He was taking great pleasure in seeking out little treasures along the rocky shoreline, while I took great pleasure in photographing his every move.

As day darkened, I suddenly became aware of the  pinking of the sky.  Where typically we see vibrant oranges and reds, this one was all gentle hues and tones, a definitely different sunset than I'd grown accustomed to there. At this point, having enjoyed my young explorer's antics for quite some time, I begged his indulgence and asked him to stop for a few minutes. Plunking himself on a large rock, he glanced to the side, an indulgently tolerant expression on his adorable face and I took the picture. Highlighted by the still blue water and soft pastel shades of the twilight sky behind, this photo had a wonderful mood, and held proud place in my home until my grandson, now a teenager, thought perhaps it was time for an update.


I got lucky that day, helped by the right place at the right time. But there are tips and tricks that can guide you on your way to some of the best sunset — and sunrise — photos you'll ever take. Here are just a few informative websites I found:

Digital Photography School 12 Tips for Photographing Stunning Sunrises and Sunsets

wikiHow Photograph a Sunset

Camera Settings for Dummies Sunset Photos

Digital Camera World Best Settings for Shooting Sunsets

Improve Photography 30 Sunset Photography Tips

Nikon Shooting Spectacular Sunrises and Sunsets

Photographing Sunrises and Sunsets

How To: Photograph Sunsets

ePHOTOzine Top Ten Sunset Photography Tips and Tricks

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunrise, Sunset. Can You Tell the Difference?

Generally speaking, as far as I can see,  the only difference between a sunrise and a sunset is the distance you're facing. They are both things of beauty, full of colour and inspiration.

While there is no natural cause for an optical difference between the two, there is, however, according to the authors of Color and Light in Nature (Cambridge Press 2001) human factors that affect our perception.  At dusk, after a day spent in daylight our eyes don't adjust quite as swiftly to the darkening sky so some of the hues might be lost. At dawn, though, our acute night vision sees every hue, every slight alteration in colour.

True perhaps, but it certainly doesn't take anything away from the grandeur of either. I admit I have caught more sunsets in my time than sunrises and rarely find them anything but awesome. Likewise, have been the  few early mornings when I've been up to watch to the brightening sky.

These natural phenomena are the perfect start and end to a day, a photographer's dream, a nature lover's ideal. They inspire  even the busiest among us to pause for a second and enjoy the display. They are omnipresent and glorious.

The collections of wonderful photos I share here capture that beauty. Whether they were taken at morning or night really couldn't matter less to me.

iPHOTOS.com Sunsets and Sunrises

iCLIPART.com Sunrise/Sunset With People

Acclaim Images Sunrises/Sunsets

Clipart.com Sunset/Sunrise