Fiery Sky Over Inks Lake

The main point of this post is a beautiful sunset over Inks lake, but before the sun set there was some really nice golden light. I stood by the lake taking photos of a bunch of ducks that refused to swim in the right direction and then a big heron swooped in an landed on the shore of the lake on the other side of a tree from me. I was able to shoot through the tree without disturbing the bird and get a few nice shots. He really is well lit and looking right at the setting sun as if posing for me. There is also a duck in the background with its head in the water.

I tried to get around the tree, but this spooked the bird and it flew away. But the sun was about to set anyway, so I changed to my wider angle lens and picked a place on the lake shore to see how the high clouds would develop. When the clouds began to catch some up-light from the sun beyond the horizon, I knew I was in for a show.

I picked a spot with some granite in the foreground as I think that is more interesting than just water, but there is a large tree to the left of my frame that I couldn’t shoot around. The tree is a large dark mass on the left side of the image and makes it very unbalanced, but that is where the sun sets this time of year. The other side of the tree is tall grass and more trees and I wanted the rock in the foreground, so I shot from here.

Eventually I got peak orange in the clouds. I was taking bracketed shots for an HDR merge, but I didn’t like what this did with the water when I processed it. I then spent time with masks on multiple images in Photoshop and still wasn’t all that happy with things. So, I looked at one of the middle exposures and found that it didn’t have blown highlights and there was enough shadow detail that I could just work with a single image. Below is my fiery orange clouds image; and yes, the clouds were really that orange.

I mainly put an inverted radial mask over the bright part of the sky in the distance and raised the exposure and contrast on everything else in the image. I then put another mask on the stones in the foreground to make sure they were visible with some texture. I shifted the hue of the yellows toward orange and the orange toward red a little to get a more accurate image. Then I removed some navigation buoys from the water and was about done.

One of the best sunsets that I have seen and I was lucky it was on a day I was hiking at the lake. There were people watching TV in an RV not far away and I wanted to go knock on their door to tell them to come outside and look, but I didn’t want to disturb their camping.

The clouds shifted toward red and then began to fade to gray. I took a parting shot from the parking lot. This image is more balanced and may have been a better composition as there is a large prickly pear that you can’t see in the foreground, but it has less water in it and I really love the sky reflected in the water. I was previously shooting on the other side of that tree on the right side of the frame below.

That was my nice sunset at the lake and I was home before 7:30PM, which was nice too. In the summer, I’d be out until 10:30PM or so doing this as I live about 45 minute’s drive from the lake. I hope you enjoyed my sunset and thanks for reading.

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