Digital Photography Sunday School Episode 5

//Digital Photography Sunday School Episode 5
Digital Photography Sunday School Episode 5 with PhotoNERDs. Pacifica, CA
Final Processed Image
Straight out of camera – Sky
Straight out of camera – Foreground

Camera Gear and Settings:

  • Camera: Sony NEX-6
  • Lens: Sony 10-18mm F4
  • Focal Length: 12mm
  • Shutter Speed: 0.4 & 1/8th
  • Aperture: F/8
  • ISO: 100

Processing Software Used:

  • Lightroom CC 2015
  • Photoshop CC 2015

photo by: Jack Thatcher


Pacifica, CA December 2013, Santa’s Special Sunset

What a sunset! Actually….to this day it is probably the most explosive sunset I have ever seen. I was out shooting with my buddy Nate and this was just a quick stop on the way up to San Francisco for a night of cityscapes. The clouds didn’t look like they were going to offer up much of a sunset but we stayed anyway. Just after the sun dropped below the horizon the sky started to burn…..and burn…..and burn!!! It seemed like it was never going to end. We were both running around trying to get as many compositions as we could while it lasted.

When composing the image I asked myself the same question I always do, “What is more interesting to me? The sky or the foreground?”. In this case it was obviously the sky so I decided I would make about 2/3 of the image the sky and the rest would be the ocean. I also liked how the pier came in from the left and ended 2/3 of the way across the frame. I also got down low so I could capture the depth, movement, texture and details in the water. I shot multiple frames at different exposures on a tripod (keeping my aperture the same….adjusting shutter speed) so I could capture the full dynamic range of the scene.

Once I got home and was going to process one of these I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Why? I thought it looked fake straight out of the camera. No joke….I didn’t think anyone would believe how bright this sunset was. So I actually processed the image below in a type of monochrome and I called it “Anti Climactic”. Now here I am almost two years later and I’m ready to process in color……I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY!!!

P.S. As you get to know me better you will see I have no time table for processing my images. I have a folder that typically contains anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 images that I plan to process some day. When I get into my creative mood I go through the folder and see what feels right in the moment. This was the image that won today.

Editing Process

I shot six different frames of this composition. The shutter speed ranged to expose for different parts of the image. After looking at the histograms I decided I should use two images to make the final image. I could have probably done it with one but using two gave me what I really wanted in my composition.

I really loved the movement of the water in the Foreground image but some parts of the sky were a little blown out. The foreground in the sky image was dark but the sky had great color, detail and texture. First I edited the foreground image in Lightroom CC. I made some simple exposure adjustments, bumped up the contrast and took the saturation down a bit. Specifically in the orange tones. I then copied those adjustments over to the sky image. From there I warmed up the sky and made similar exposure adjustments to get the sky just right.

Then it was time to move over to Photoshop CC to merge the images together. Always make sure to align layers when starting this process. Although I was on a tripod the clouds had moved so they happened to be slightly off. Using the Auto Align tool did the trick. I set the sky image as my base and used luminosity masks to manually blend in the foreground water. Once I saw what they looked like together I had to make some minor exposure adjustments using masks and curves adjustments to get it just right.

It’s always fun to go back and relive these moments after some time has gone by. I have included screen shots showing each adjustment I made over on our website ( Be sure to head on over and check it out. Also….we want to hear from you. Let us know if you have any questions about this image or how it was processed.






  • Loved today’s Sunday School. Glad you changed your mind in this image. I think today’s version is better than the Anti version although that was awesome too. Thanks for sharing!

    Adam F 08.11.2015
    • Thanks dude! I like this version better also.

      JymmyJack 08.11.2015

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