Sunset at Gemmys Point, Lakes Entrance Victoria

My Exposure Bracketing Experiment Using GIMP Went Surprisingly Well

I accidentally took this photo the other day at Gemmys Point near Lakes Entrance, Gippsland Victoria, overlooking the Gippsland lakes just after sunset.

DSC_0276-SunsetGemmysPoint-300wI say accidentally because I was experimenting with exposure bracketing, something my camera doesn’t do automatically, and just wanted some quick snaps and see what I could put together when this photo popped out of Gimp at the end of a rather simple procedure.

Here are the original snaps all taken with the following exposure settings: f/13.0, ISO 100, 40m focal length. From the top down the shutter speeds were: 0.5, 1, 2, 4 and 8 seconds.

5 bracketed exposures.

5 bracketed exposures.

In Gimp (free software that does most of the awesome stuff Photoshop does) I loaded each photo as a layer in the order presented above, longest exposures at the bottom, shortest at the top.

Then in the top layer I created a layer mask initialised to a grey-scale copy of the layer, just to see what would happen. I wasn’t expecting miracles.

I repeated this for all other layers except the last and Boom! This happened: Everything was exposed very well, the sunset sky, the lake, the trees on the islands in middle and back grounds, and the bushes in the foreground. What happened was all the dark parts of each layer would become transparent while the light parts would remain visible in proportion to their luminosity, resulting in the desired parts of each layer naturally showing through.

I was happy with that. But I know, there’s still something weird about it, right? Colour balance. I also realised there was too much sky, no obvious subject and probably many more faults. But it was just a quick experiment in exposure bracketing and post processing in Gimp that I was never expecting go as well as it did. Using the grey-scale of the layer as the layer mask is almost like a semi-automatic HDR. I think this might be very useful.

After fiddling the colour balance and cropping some sky I was satisfied with the experiment. In fact my mother-in-law was so impressed she had it printed on a 20” by 30” canvas.

Sunset at Gemmys Point, Lakes Entrance Victoria

Cropped and fixed white balance. Mother-in-Law now has this on her wall.

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