Now that we are off Daylight Savings Time it gets dark early and quickly. I ran a private workshop here at the Outer Banks of North Carolina last week, and we set out in the late afternoon in search of good sunset images. This lighthouse was a good subject.
The sun was setting to our right, but the best color in the sky was in the east to our left. That can often happen, so when out shooting sunset (or sunrise) always keep an eye on the opposite direction for good colors and drama. You just never know.
While I like the look of the near darkness and the bright warm tones near the horizon, something was lacking. Below is the image before any work was done.
Brightening the light itself was easy. In Photoshop I copied and pasted the original light (just the light itself at the top of the lighthouse) so that it was on its own layer. Then using Image > Adjustments > Levels I made the light brighter by sliding the middle slider to the left (toward the small black triangle). This created a glow which was the look I was hoping for.
Then it was time to add the actual light rays. After trying several different approaches found on different tutorials and YouTube videos, I came across the technique that worked best with this image. As with all things Photoshop (or Elements), there are several ways to create any look you want. The trick is to find the one that is, first and foremost, easiest and then that works well with your particular image. Some of the info I came across created an artificial look which I was not happy with, so take your time when deciding which approach to use. Even with the tutorial I chose (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2z6hvfISqU) I had to make some personal modifications to achieve a result I liked. So use what you find as a starting point, and adapt from there to fit your own personal vision.
A final important note - always, always, ALWAYS let subtlety and good taste be your guides. Try not to overdo any added elements if you want your image to look as real as possible.
1/160 sec. at f/6.3, ISO 800. Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Realism is in the work when idealism is in the soul." -- Henri Bergson