Sometimes (actually probably most of the time) you just have to be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Sunsets are a classic and not always easy to capture. With this example I just wanted to show that it doesn’t have to be expensive equipment, carefully exposed etc. This was a point and click shot, through my front room window, across the road between the corner of the house across the road and a clump of trees on the right.
I used my Panasonic FZ18 set on iA (Intelligent Auto) which is what I tend to leave it on for emergency shots. All I did was zoom in, about 20% from standard, pointed to the sky and partially pressed the button. This forced the camera to set everything, exposure, focus, fstop etc. Then I re-framed the shot without releasing the shutter button and pressed fully.
The exposure could be improved but it is the effect I wanted – the sky is rich in colour and the foreground is deep shadow. The focus could also have been improved with manual settings by focussing on the shadows to get crisp edges. But the point here is I think it is lovely, the result is exactly what I expected (maybe even a little better than expected) and the whole thing was done in seconds.
So folks, don’t despair, if all you have is a point and click camera – and that doesn’t mean cheap, because let’s face it nothing is cheap these days – trust the manufacturers settings and use the little tip here to force things a little. Most cameras with auto settings set everything up during the shutter press, all that computer trickery getting all the data and producing something it thinks you’ll be happy with, before it actually continues with the shutter process. Sometimes there can be a noticeable delay between when you press the shutter and when you finally here the tell-tale ‘click’. This is basically down to the camera’s computer working everything out, setting it, then finally taking the shot. Most auto exposure settings are also somewhat centre biased so, as long as there isn’t too much difference in the focal distance of the subject – point to the area where you would like the exposure to be perfect and partially press the shutter button, then re-frame for your subject and complete the shutter press. The shot will be instant, because the processing is already done with the partial shutter press, and the exposure shouldn’t be a surprise to you.
Good luck folks – hope this helps some of you. Don’t forget if per chance there is that rare shot that you tried but didn’t quite pull off, contact me through my website (photocrazy.co.uk) and I may be able to rescue it for you.