Cedar Breaks, Utah
Wait for it....wait for it....wait for it....and Ta Da, there it is!!! Last evening I drove up to Cedar Breaks, scouted out a location, set my camera on a tripod, and waited in anticipation to see if I would get a good sunset shot. Time goes by and the sky looks promising with a few clouds, and haze from all the many forest fires. But when sunset came, there was only a brief hint of pinkish glow and then it was gone, leaving the landscape a dull, uninteresting brown. And then starts the debate in my head about whether to stay longer or leave quickly while it is still light enough to make it back to my car without tripping and falling. (I forgot to bring a flashlight or my phone.) I can't count how many times I've made the decision to stay longer, and how many times I've been rewarded long after sunset with a dazzling sky that lights up the landscape just long enough for me to get a shot like this.
I am amazed at how sophisticated camera technology and photo software editing programs have become! (Especially great for technically challenged photogs like myself!) Just a few years ago, landscape photographers would have to make a significant effort to produce an image like this, one that would not blow out the bright sky, or lose all the detail in the dark foreground. He would have to compensate for the camera's INability to record the range of light to dark that the human eye can naturally see. Many years ago I would have used a split level neutral density filter to darken the sky and balance the light. In more recent years I would bracket several different exposures in my camera, (one shot exposed for the sky, one for the midground, one for the foreground, etc.), then combine them on the computer. Then came HDR programs which automatically combined numerous exposures, (often with questionable or unnatural results). Once in a while, but rarely today do I need to use these methods to get results I am pleased with.
For this shot I used a tripod and set my camera to shot RAW and JPG and bracket three different exposures with every click. I used a wide angle lens and my settings were 800 iso, f/20, 1 sec. In LR I chose the middle RAW exposure, then decreased exposure in the sky with the 'Highlights' slider and increased exposure on the landscape with the 'Shadows' slider until I was happy with the results. This was enough to balance the light in the bright sky and the dark landscape. That's it! I did make a few other adjustments, but did not change the color, or increase the saturation or decrease noise. (P.S. I also attribute a lot of the results with shots like this to the amazing capabilities of my Fuji X-T2.)