Sunset on the Ohio River

Ohio River Sunset June 5, 2013 #2
Ohio River Sunset June 5, 2013 #2

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I find it amazing how much the sky will change during sunset. This first image was approximately 30 minutes after the sun had set and the sky was lit as if it were on fire. Once the sun was below the horizon the clouds mover further east and stretched high into the sky allowing the sunlight to diffuse even more. I was walking back down the Big Four Bridge ramp and couldn’t believe how wonderful the light had become. The way it cast a warm glow across the landscape, river and the handrail was irresistible and I stopped to capture this scene. The small section of blue in the upper right corner seemed a perfect complement to the overall orange cast in the scene and really enhanced the warmness of the oranges.

I processed this HDR image in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 using a three frame bracket set of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures. After merging them I applied the Balanced preset and boosted the Detail and Drama settings to Accentuated and Deep which really popped the texture in the sky and on the water. Upon returning the merged image to Aperture 3 I added some contrast and made a very slight change to the mid-contrast which further enhanced the texture in the sky, water and on the Big Four Bridge too. I adjusted the color channels to suit my intent for the image and finished with some minor sharpening and a small vignette.

Ohio River Sunset June 5, 2013 #3
Ohio River Sunset June 5, 2013 #3

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As I sated earlier the range of colors and the effect it has on a scene is simply amazing during sunset. I often photograph directly into the sun when it is necessary to my vision of an image. I was drawn to this shot by the way the orange sunlight was spreading out from the sun while the sky around it remained blue. I liked the way the sunlight reflected in the river and on the ironwork of the Big Four Bridge on the right. I elected to shoot through the handrail to emphasize the perspective in the frame and to capture the people strolling along the riverfront.

In this image the complementary colors are reversed from their relationship in the first image with blue becoming the dominant hue. Whenever I am shooting I like to keep the concept of complementary colors in mind as I compose an image. Since orange is directly across the color wheel from blue the overall effect is a complimentary color scheme that allows both colors to really pop.  Whether it is something as dramatic as a sunset or a subject within a landscape I keep the color wheel in mind and look for complementary colors that will add interest while not dominating the final image.

Instead of using all three frames from my bracket set for this image I decided to use only the underexposed and the normally exposed frames. I did this because a little boy walked into the frame during the overexposed shot. I didn’t want to go through the effort of masking him out of the shot so elected to try a two frame HDR. The resulting image had a broad enough dynamic range to gather shadow details and still retain detail in the sunset and clouds.

One additional note about these images before I wrap up; I decided to crop them into a more panoramic aspect ratio in order to give a more expansive feel to the final images. I find that landscape images often, but not always, benefit from a wider aspect ratio.


9 thoughts on “Sunset on the Ohio River

  1. Too HDR’d for me. sorry it looks like comic book printing. I think your images would be dynamic if they were kept closer to the original.

    1. I like saturated color but I can see your position too. To each his own. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; I appreciate your candor.

      1. I think your pics look great. At times, the purists get a bit annoyed at HDR just like realists artists get annoyed at expressionism, impressionism and abstract art. Keep up the good work.

        1. Thanks Seaside you make a good point about the way that some people view new art forms. Though HDR has been around for quite a while the way it has been used has taken a while to become refined. Thanks too for your kind words about my images.

  2. Love your colors, Nick! The saturated color creates dynamic movement throughout the image that further emphasizes the subject and creates real drama! Stunning!

  3. Great display of complimentary colors! Where are these along the Ohio River? I moved to Phoenix AZ almost 20 years ago and didn’t see sunsets like that in Columbus very often. Beautiful work.

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