Sometimes sunsets are so spectacular you can’t stop staring, but when you revisit your photographs, there is something missing. This can often be remedied by compositing, but you certainly don’t want your foreground or mid-ground to steal the scene. To make a good picture, you want the elements to complement each other.
Ocean sunsets are great because of the straight horizon. In the 2 images, Ocean Sunset 2, and Arago Sunset, the sky and sun are still the main focus. In Ocean Sunset 2, the clam reflection created in Photoshop extends the brightest portion of the sky back into the water. There were numerous elements such as rocks and shadows to account for. After adding the reflection, I simply reduced the opacity until I could see the elements to add back into the foreground, then I erased the reflection in those places.
Arago sunset represents the ocean more as it is normally seen, that is too turbulent to create much of a reflection, thus the reflection of the sky is very subdued. PSA (Photographic Society of America) published Arago Sunset as the closing image in their 75thanniversary tabletop book, which is now available at www.psa-photo.net.
The process of adding reflections into an image starts with saving a portion of an image that will be reflected as a separate photo, then rotating the image 180degrees and then flipping it. I then drag the image back into my original, which creates a new layer, then I position the image and distort it if necessary. It is very important to pay attention to the foreground because it dictates the angle of the shot, thus the distortion of the reflection.
In Arago sunset, the distortion of the reflection was insignificant because it was so subdued, but in Ocean Sunset 2, the reflection is compressed in height due to the angle of the shot. For realism, this requires some study, however, in many instances it is hard to distinguish if an applied reflection is a good representation of the real thing.