Making sunsets look like sunsets

There's always the moment when shooting a landscape (either at sunset or sunrise), where the light is amazing and the colours are so bright. You set up the tripod, taking time to get it level (damn spirit bubble), lock in the focus, get the composition exactly how you want, and click the shutter. Yes. Done it. Then...you get home and upload all the precious images taken over the week. Where is that sunset shot I took on the first night? I remember it, the sky was purple and the air was clear. Then you find it, and it looks like this:

The original UNEDITED raw file, straight out of camera.

Oh crap. But then you remember, you shot it in raw! Your mouse immediately moves towards the tint slider. And you start scrolling. And you keep going. And there it is - the image you saw with your own eyes starts to appear. Your mouse moves away from basic and you run through the usual adjustments. Maybe you use a preset. Finally, you sit back and compare the before and after.

After a bit of work, many images can undergo a massive transformation in Lightroom.

It's not groundbreaking, but it's a start. That's why I love digital photography, the ability to work on a raw file and help make it look like what you saw with your own eyes. Now, I'm not talking about heavy digital manipulation (I'm not a massive fan, especially when it comes to landscapes) - all the information was there as it was all recovered from the raw file in Lightroom. The only major adjustments I carried out were (as I said) some tweaking of tint and white-balance, along with obligatory sharpening and local contrast adjustment. Being completely honest, I did add a graduated filter in LR to focus the eye more on the city, but this is no different to when people would dodge and burn in their own darkroom.

This result I achieved just wouldn't have been possible with film (which is a medium I would LOVE to try out), and it allows people of all abilities to get a result they can be happy with. Anything that helps keep people interested in making images is fine by me.