I am a beginner in photography. Could some one explain how to make this photo?

There are some things that I would like to know:

  • what camera, lens(es) (eg shall I do it on crop camera, wide angle lens)?
  • what camera setting shall I set?
  • what filter (gradient, NDx, PL) shall I use?
  • how to save camera from the sun light (if it might be)
  • finally what Photoshop manipulations shall I do
  • any other actions, conditions what I forgot and/or don't know.


I have done my photo, I tied :)

enter image description here

bigger version here

  • Wide-angle lens: 13mm
  • Shutter Speed: 1/45 sec
  • Aperture: f/13
  • Filters: 0.9 ND hard grad (soft was better, I think)
  • Software: Photomatix (HDR), Photoshop.
  • Magic place.
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ That is a great photo... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ WOW, that is a whole LOT of question you're asking! ;) What kind of gear do you have access to? \$\endgroup\$
    – huzzah
    Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 15:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ this question should be deleted because it is no longer useful :-( the referenced photo was removed from the website \$\endgroup\$
    – szulat
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 9:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @szulat you are right :-( \$\endgroup\$
    – garik
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 8:23

2 Answers 2


The differences in camera formats won't show up in an image that size on the web. If you want to print large then you need to be careful about lens selection and use the largest format available to you.

That image is almost certainly multiple exposures tonemapped / enfused into a single picture, I.e it is what's called an HDR image. No amount of graduated filters is going to let you expose for some backlit corn and not totally blow out he sun / sky. A polarizer might help but is by no means required.

Aside from the processing there are no magic camera settings for this or any other image, just what's required for the scene. A fairly wide lens was used, with the aperture stopped down to increase depth of field. As the foreground is really close to the camera focusing could be critical, however if I were shooting multiple exposures I would just focus stack at the same time.

Finally shooting into the sun with a wide lens won't damage your camera, just be careful of your eyes!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Agree with everything. You explained the need for HDR due to blown-out sky. But I just thought I'd add that sometimes it's hard (at least for me) to see how wide a lens was used, but in this case the use of wide angle is made obvious by the distortion of the cloud in the top right. The hills don't really show it, though, because they're composed close to the centerline of the photo. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 13:01

It's positively an HDR image but there might be more going on than just that. If I was to photograph the sun using multiple exposures HDR I would expect to see very pronounced rays similar to this image. (how many rays depends on the lens) This leads me to believe that there is some very careful framing and timing going on here. I think the sun is behind a cloud which lessens the intensity of the sun itself in the small area where Stanislav is shooting. Having the sun obscured by the cloud might not have been enough though. I've recently experimented with multiple exposure HDR while shooting with a Neutral Density filter. This pretty well completely blew out my sun and although I liked the shot I could not recover the blown out area. The blown out area did however look similar (gradual transition from clouds to complete white) to what I see on Stanislav's photo but it was white. I think he added yellow graduated colour on the sun and surrounding area. (NIK filters are great at adding control points to photos and allowing for controlling any color and exposure property of any part of a photo) You can do that even in the NIK HDR Effex software; process your HDR and adjust various areas of the photo differently. There is also no flare no light spots in the photo that ND filters would produce when shooting against the sun so either Stanislav really new his stuff and either shielded careful when shooting or removed imperfections in post processing.

You can see that he used a filter on this shot where you can see the circular light anomaly at the bottom - this is what I would expect when I were to use an ND filter in a similar situation.

Many photographers consider large blown out areas a problem in a photo and others don't shy away from it when it "works". Here is another photo where that suggests that Stanislav belongs the the latter group.

I like the appearance of the light on the crops. It could be natural and just a result of the HDR processing but there could also be some additional post-processing here. I already mentioned NIK; they also have a software dedicated to controlling light in a photo. Photomatix, another popular HDR software has some scene lighting options already built in which sometimes work quite well in these particular situations (open spaces). I use both HDR Effex Pro and Photomatix and each package yields a look with a different feel. This image has the feel of something I would expect from Photomatx.

As for the lens; it's very wide. Judging by the distortion of the clouds it could also be a fisheye lens. I don't personally own a fisheye (will be my next purchase) but it is said that if you level the horizon in the middle the distortion effect on a landscape is less pronounced. You can find very wide angle shoots done with say the Rokinnon 8mm on the web that look almost as if they were taken with an extremely wide angle lens. Judging by this shot, Stanislav has one in his arsenal.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the details about sun rays! I would love to see some of your experiments with an ND filter during HDR.... \$\endgroup\$
    – huzzah
    Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 15:15
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Here is one and here is another. (Both 3 exposures with ND filter and guessing the timing with shutter cable in Bulb mode then processed in Photomatix and Lightroom) I actually shot about 6 or 7 exposures of each but selected only those that would process well in HDR software. I like other images I took better but in my case I thought the blown out sun was too much. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, me likey! I think that the ND adds a little moodiness to the photo which is a nice change from your stock wilderness photos! I have to do an HDR range from balconies at my job and I get sun rays but I attributed it up to the crazy high f/20 I have to use in my setup (don't ask---ugh). \$\endgroup\$
    – huzzah
    Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ right. I didn't mention that. I guess because in such landscape I would typically use a small aperture. (f11 - f16) which of course will make the rays pronounced when photographing the sun. But I get different results when the sun is behind a cloud, still bright but obscured. In this case I get a blown out blob. (much like a moon obscured by haze in night shots) I tried cloning some clouds into the area but that didn't work but I will try to add colour and gradually fade it out. Of course I am very much a beginner so take my comments with a grain of salt. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ What if you shot like normal (f11-f16) and then before merging you clone out the sun in the darkest shots so there's no rays? Could be disastrous, but maybe it could work. \$\endgroup\$
    – huzzah
    Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 17:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.