Picture a Week 43 – Sunset Silhouettes

Canon EOS 60D ,Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
1/8000s f/14.0 at 200.0mm iso800

At the end of another walk at La Jolla Cove, I was pretty much done taking photos. However, when I looked around, I was struck by the shape of the tree, and the fact that I could probably place the sun right behind the tree trunk to get both a sunburst effect and lots of silhouettes of people against the sky.

The silhouettes are caused by the fact that the background is so bright that any reasonable exposure for the background will render the people just a black shape against it. An interesting variation of this can be seen with the people closer to the foreground. They are just as strongly backlit, but they are against a dark background, so they display a little bit of rim lighting, a bright seam of light that outlines them. The yellow color of the sky is partially caused by a weather condition called “Santa Ana”, when we get hot dry winds blowing from the east and carrying desert sand out over the ocean.

I’ve been posting the basic camera settings with each photo. If you look at them for this shot, you might wonder if they make sense. Did I really need such high sensitivity of 800 ISO, or such a short shutter time of 1/8000s? Of course not. What happened is that I had been taking photos in the shade just before this, where I did need 800 ISO to get a fast enough shutter speed. I simply forgot to review my camera settings when I took this shot. Fortunately, the camera was forgiving. In particular, I had it set in a kind of “safety” mode, where it will overwrite my aperture (which was probably at f/5.6 or f/8) if the shortest shutter speed (1/8000s) would still lead to an overexposed image. Moral of the story: Look at your camera settings more often!

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