Backyard Sunset

Peak sunset after a rainy day in South Prairie, WA

Pretty decent sunset colors, but they were very brief. A light yellow started about 5 minutes after sunset, this scene five minutes after that, then the color faded in a couple of minutes.

Usually, that means there are clouds out over the Pacific and so we don’t get the long fetch for deeper colors. Pretty happy with those oranges on a blue sky, though.

Technical info: Shot with Phase One camera on the Cambo WRS-5000 technical camera. Lens is a 32mm Rodenstock Digitar-W HR. Exposure was 1/10th second at f/16, ISO 50. I exposed the image for the bright sky, so the foreground is quite dark—black in the raw image; I brightened the darks a bit to show just the highlights in the landscaping. There are no darks in the sky, so this had minimal impact on the naturalness of the sky. And so I went right ahead and added a bit of unnatural to the sky: I increased saturation, and boosted the contrast a bit to bring out the shades I saw with my eye.

I used a fall of 15mm to get more of the sky without having to tilt the camera. The use of a fall instead of tilting the camera means there is minimal distortion in the cloud shapes.

By a fall of 15mm I mean sliding the back end of the camera (the digital sensor) downward from its neutral (middle) position. The camera has a built-in screw to do this with precision—no light leaks, and a very accurate 15mm fall.

Why downward to look up? The camera lens inverts the image. You wouldn’t normally have to think about this with a 35mm or APS-C camera; the software in the camera saves the image as your eye sees it. Here is an example of a double move: back fall front rise; click here or on the image to go to a page with more details about these camera movements.

If I tilted the camera instead of using a back fall, the horizon would be compressed and the sky would be expanded, making for a distorted, less natural photo.

Note: I said that users of 35mm cameras never have to worry about rise and fall, but that’s not 100% true. Cambo makes a ‘camera’ called the ACTUS that allows you to put a 35mm camera on the back end, and various medium format and large format lenses on the front end, and the apply rises and falls to your heart’s content. It’s how I got started in digital view cameras. I used my Sony with various large-format (4x5) lenses I had for my (now seldom-used) 4x5 camera, a Linhof Kardan.