I shot this image on the same trip to Porkkalanniemi as my image “Boom” found in the portfolio. Compared to Boom shot a few minutes after the sunset, this one is shot a few minutes prior, not far away. Personally I really like to shoot images with the sun visible, especially at small apertures like f/16, since my current wide angle lens draws an amazingly beautiful star around heavy light sources like the sun here. The problem in an image like this is typically the lens flare caused by the hard light. Although it might work in some images, I usually want to get rid of it. Lens flare is obviously influenced heavily by the type of lens you are using, and I did not have any real issues with it shooting this image. The reason I like having the sun in the image is that it beautifully lights up the surrounding objects, like the side of the rock on the left and the edges around the puddle, creating a nice contrast with the areas in the shadows.
As you can see in the before/after comparison, most of the time there is a need for several exposures when shooting scenes with heavy light sources and shadows. Although the before image does have almost all the detail in both dark and bright areas, using several exposures allows us to get better image quality in all the dynamic range of the final image. Since I’m only a few inches away from the dirt in the foreground, I also used a technique called focus stacking, meaning that I used two images to create the brighter base layer having both foreground and the rock on the left in focus. Photoshop has a direct tool to do this out of two images in different focus in no time. After focus stacking and exposure blending the three images together, I cloned out some of the disturbing debris in the puddle visible in the before image. Then I toned the image slightly more yellow and magenta to emphasize the color of the sunset and the clouds. I also added contrast and darkened the image throughout carefully not to black out the deep shadows in the foreground. After that all I did was to add a vignette (a heavy one of course, just the way I like them).