Landscape Photograph — Mackerel Sky
This image was photographed a few minutes after the sun went down. Because the clouds didn’t reach all the way to the horizon, the sky would be on fire a few minutes after the sun set. The photographer took a series of exposures after the sun sank below the horizon. The final image is an HDR merge of three bracketed exposures.
Sunsets are special in Florida. In the winter, cold fronts blow in from the north. When a storm front approaches, some angry weather follows, and then the skies get clear. Sometimes after a front passes, humidity in the high atmosphere brews a wonderful confection of clouds. This is known as a mackerel sky.
ISO setting 100: HDR processing can increase image noise. Always use the lowest ISO setting when shooting HDR exposures.
Exposure compensation 0 EV: You don’t need exposure compensation when you shoot an HDR image. Accept the metering the camera gives you and then bracket the exposures using your camera menu.
Focal length 24mm: To capture as much of the wonderful sunset as possible, the photographer used his shortest focal length.
Aperture f/16: I wanted a large depth of field so I’d have detailed sky as well as the water in the bay.
Shutter speed: It varies because the image is composed of three exposures.
Composing the image
The tripod was set low to place the horizon line in the lower third of the image. The angled banks of the clouds converged on a power point according to the Rule of Thirds. The orange reflections on the bay provide an entryway into the picture.
The images were merged in HDR Efex Pro. After merging the images, a bit of judicious cropping was done to get rid of unwanted objects at the sides of the image and tighten the composition.