Still Chasing an Austin Sunset

I am still on a mission to get a nice sunset over downtown Austin. Thursday night looked somewhat promising, so I went to a parking garage that I thought would provide a good view. This parking garage is on the East side of Interstate 35 and overlooks downtown from the Northeast. I have been to this place a few times before and to my happy surprise, I found that they had removed a lightning rod that had been in my way.

Traffic was heavy on I-35, but I did manage to make it to my perch just as the sun was setting. At first I thought that clouds on the horizon would block the light and leave me with a dull gray sunset, but a few minutes after the sun went down, a ray of light pierced through a gap in the clouds and created a brilliant strip of orange across the clouds over downtown. This lasted for just a couple of minutes, so I was fortunate to be set up and ready when it happened. See the photo below.

Downtown Austin Texas at Sunset
Nikon D750 + 16-35mm, f/4; 26mm, f/8, 1/6s, ISO100

I did bring the shadows down a bit, to silhouette downtown Austin against the sky. This time of year, the sun is setting a bit to the right of downtown from this vantage point, so it is not perfect alignment. The orange light in the sky is nice, but I was hoping for more drama. I had been watching the clouds from my desk all afternoon and the high clouds looked good for a sunset, but they thinned out a bit in the last hour before the sun set.

I attempted a panorama to get in closer to downtown, but it was really windy and the camera shake mostly ruined my pano pictures. I tied my camera strap around my tripod column to minimize it flapping in the breeze. I had my tripod atop a concrete column that shouldn’t have had much shake in it. But the wind was very gusty, and I later found some motion blur in some of the pictures. I don’t think that it would have been a great pano anyway.

I did manage to get a long exposure that turned out well after the sky turned dark blue. I shot this wide at 16mm to get as much of the cloud movement in the picture as possible.

Downtown Austin Texas at Sunset, long exposure
Nikon D750 + 16-35mm, f/4; 16mm, f/5.6, 151s, ISO100

The above picture was about 2.5 minutes with a 10-stop ND filter. I had to bring this up 2 stops in LightRoom, so I could have exposed this a lot longer. It is difficult to calculate an exposure as the light is steadily decreasing at this point in the evening. It is nice to be able to bring up so much out of the shadows without significant noise. I do get quite a bit of vignetting shooting this wide through the ND filter.

I took a parting shot that I think turned out well. The sky was getting into deep blue and the bands of clouds were providing some nice contrast. The city lights don’t completely overwhelm the sky at this point, so I think that it works well.

Downtown Austin Texas after Sunset
Nikon D750 + 24-120mm, f/4; 24mm, f/8, 5s, ISO100

I mainly worked with the whites and blacks in LightRoom to add some fine contrast to the image and I think that this image works.

Another nice thing is that I didn’t have to chase down a bunch of sensor spots in LightRoom as I cleaned my sensor last weekend and that made a big difference. I couldn’t even find a spot to correct.

Thanks for reading and please leave a comment below.

2 thoughts on “Still Chasing an Austin Sunset

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