06 Sep / 2007

[photography] Hazy sunset at Pacifica Pier

Today San Francisco Bay Area was blanketed by smoke/haze from wild fires from Sierra. (news : link1, link2, link3). The sky was completely gray and dull. Predicting that the sunset would be extra color full, I went by Pacifica Pier hoping to take some photos. Here they are:

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First 4 photos, show the fiery sun sinking into the ocean. Last two photos are about 15,20 minutes after sunset. Last image is my favorite.


  • Time & Location : I go to shoot sunsets when there are high clouds or the sky is hazy. Clouds sprinkle colors on the sky, and the haze accentuates redness of the sunset.
    Pacifica is almost always fogged in during Summer months; so you won’t even see sunset. During Spring and Fall skies will be clear & crisp; but this is not make for a grand sunset either. During Winter, storm clouds hang low on horizon and you can get dramatic sunsets. Or look for days when there are lots of high clouds in Western sky
  • I use a telephoto, to zoom in and compress the image. The size of the Sun is ‘magnified’ when doing this
  • For the last photo, I used a 0.6 (2 stop) ND Gradual filter (explanation, buy) to mask the sky, so I could get smooth, even colors on sky and water. Without the filter, the sky would have been too bright, and water would be too dark
  • I used longest shutter speed I could possibly get (by turning up Aperture to F16,F22), to smooth out the waves and water movement
  • used a Tripod with cable release
  • bracketed from -1.0 ev to +1.0ev
    When the Sun is in the pictures (first pictures) the camera will underexpose because the scene is very bright. So compensate by ++ (+1.0 or +1.5ev works for me)
    After the sunset, camera will over-expose (not enough light); to maintain silhouettes underexpose (-1.0ev or -1.5ev works for me)
  • Gear:
    Camera : Nikon D200
    Lens : Nikor 80-200
    White Balance : Shade
    Tripod + cable release.
    images were shot in JPG and no editing is done, just resizing

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Sujee Maniyam
Sujee is a founder, principal at Elephant Scale where he provides consulting and training on Big Data technologies

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