Sunset, 11/23/09

Unretouched out of the camera — but the flash on the camera had gone off, making the sunset somewhat more blood red than it might otherwise be. A reminder that what we see and what the camera sees are sometimes different things.

28 Comments on “Sunset, 11/23/09”

  1. Ooo, nice sunset.

    I sometimes wonder about camera logic. Why does the exposure adjust for flash when focus is on infinity?

  2. Actually the flash would not have had any impact on how this image came out. Flash will affect things only in the foreground and the distance from the camera where it has an impact falls off pretty quickly. A far object such as these clouds is not really returning any noticeable light. As for DPWally’s question it isn’t a function of focus so much as measured light that determines whether a flash will go off. In this case there is enough darkness in the image that the camera decided it needed to add light to the image to get a decent result. That metering is done across the entire image and isn’t dependent on where the focal distance is set to.

  3. Erich Blattner:

    “Actually the flash would not have had any impact on how this image came out.”

    I have “with flash” and “without flash” pictures, taken subsequently, which argue rather dramatically against this thesis.

  4. This is actually a white balance issue: it assumes that since the flash fired, the flash contributed much of the light in the picture. Since the light from the flash is relatively blue, it compensated by making things redder…which made things too red because the flash did essentially nothing.

  5. Did anybody mention that the flash doesn’t affect a sunset that is miles and miles away; it affects the aperture opening? I too have noticed a huge color difference in sunsets with flash and without. They become brighter and more intense with the flash. Somehow I think the real reason is probably counter-intuitive.

  6. I don’t care why the camera sees the way it sees it, I’m just concerned that it sees things in the color of blood! O.o

    electronics/robot Apocalypse here we come. They hate us fleshy types!

    On a serious note: Gorgeous. I always love coming to see the latest sunset you’ve photographed.

  7. Dude! You live, like, 5 miles away. Where do you get these sunsets? We don’t see them.

    whine whine, whimper whimper whimper.

  8. “Actually the flash would not have had any impact on how this image came out.”

    As a professional camera man, former film student, I don’t know how you could think this true. Regardless of whether you use digital or film, a camera works on principle that light hits the lens and then comes back to whatever medium you are using with an imprint of the “light pattern” on said medium. In film, the light hits the fine crystals, causing a chemical reaction that leaves an imprint. So, if you change the amount of light (like using a flash), you change the picture you get. Same as if you change the direction on which the light falls, or the kind of light you use. Those are pretty much the three ways that a photographer changes his picture. Obviously, there is a ceiling to how much light you use before it doesn’t matter, but a sunset doesn’t count as such a situation. Just trying to explain.

    Either way, I love what John came out with.

  9. The flash going off in a picture like this would shorten the time of the exposure. As there is nothing close enough to reflect the flash-light back into the
    lens the difference is, with the no-flash shot. that the lens wouldn’t stay open long enough to collect sufficient light for a picture of lesser darkness.
    The flash would not work as a lighting feature on anything as far as clouds, but it will shorten the time the lens is open, which is good also for keeping the focus unsmudged by human hands not being stable enough to hold the camera for an entire second or so…

  10. Kyril96 @ 7 is almost certainly correct.

    IF the camera was in a fill flash mode the camera would not have shortened the exposure. The exposure in sunset shots is almost always fairly short in any case.

    If the shot had been taken on film a lab would have automatically balanced the print to come closer to an overall gray. A good lab would have decreased the automatic tendency to do this. Sort of the opposite of what would be done with photos taken by tungsten lighting where it is usually necessary to increase the compensation that automatic correction does.

    However the shot was taken by a digital camera and those have a white balance setting which cameras use to adjust color. Flash is fairly blue and unless it is a pretty good OFF the camera flash they can be excessively blue. So the camera should have compensated for the blue instead of compensating only for the red ambient light.

    The original image should have tag that tells something about the white balance setting. Unfortunately it is likely that all it says about the balance is Auto.

    So much for the tech. I like the results however they were obtained.


  11. Yikes!

    This is scary, man!

    I mean, a sky THAT RED can only mean some kind of Orcish army is invading.

  12. B. Minich @ 20:

    Well, clearly the Eye of Sauron isn’t looking directly at John, so that’s good. But I’m thinking the folks in Dayton might want to head somewhere else for Thanksgiving.

  13. I think that Kyril96 and Ethelred are correct about white balance.

    I very much like the result, however, whatever you did (or didn’t do) to get that shot, and whatever the technical explanation may be. Some of my best shots are due to unintended settings.

  14. Stupid question that I can’t seem to find the answer to elswhere: John, what kind of camera do you use?

  15. When working with a digital image, it is well to remember that the image that the camera takes, the image that your monitor shows, and what your printer prints are usually three different images. Not forgetting that what your eye / brain saw was most likely something else different from all three of the above. To get a print to be “true” to what you saw takes a great deal of work, getting it in the camera, on the monitor, and finally, if printed, on the printer. Usually a lot more work than I am inclined to do for most pictures (not being a professional). Reminds me of some of the sunsets I saw in southern Africa in the late 70’s.

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