Here’s a stunning photo of the sun going down between some trees in the Slovakian High Tatras mountains.

And I can objectively call it stunning, because it’s not my photo!

It’s Sonias 🙂

She took it in Feb and I absolutely love the picture, so I convinced her to let me share it with you.

Sonia went to Europe two weeks earlier than me (we staggered our trip so not to leave our dog Archer with friends for TOO long!) and spent that time with family and friends in her home country.

Whilst there, it was on a ski-trip to the mountains that she captured this image, late one afternoon.

To say that Sonia was blessed with perfect skiing weather for those few days would be an understatement, as her more “touristy” photos (mountain-top selfies etc) would attest to.

But perfect weather doesn’t always add up to capturing the best “portfolio shots” for us landscape photographers, especially when you’re having so much fun skiing, photography kinda takes a back seat.

That said, Sonia spotted the forest on the edge of the slopes and decided it would make a great subject for a photo, especially at the right time of day with the sunlight beaming through the trees.

Long story short, after packing up skis for the day, Sonia went back to this spot specifically to get the shot, before heading back to the lodge for a warm meal and a few shots of Tatra Tea.

Some interesting notes about the taking and making of this photo…

Sonia took it hand-held, with a relatively high ISO of 1600 in order to get the shutter speed down to 1/125th of a second (to eliminate camera movement as an issue).

Also, because it was hand-held, it’s from a single exposure (i.e. no blending).

The sun did a lot of the work in this shot, creating the beautiful back-lighting, but there was still quite a lot to be done in Photoshop to create the finished image.

To dial in the colour balance between warm sunlight and cool shadows (and blue sky), Sonia used some of the same techniques you can find in my Creative Colour course (similar to the borrow colour method for reference for any existing CCCC owners).

(It’s always tricky with a shot like this where it’s divided between warm and cool areas – the camera is very unlikely to capture it just right.)

Also as you might imagine, there was lots of intricate masking required to tweak the light and colour in the trees without brushing over the lines into the bright sky behind… This is probably one of those kinds of shot that Luminosity Masking was invented for lol.

Then, the final touch; to accentuate the hazy light through the trees Sonia used something similar to my “Sun Blur” technique.

(Quick version, take a large, yellowish, soft-edged brush on a low opacity and place a single brushstroke on top of the sun, give it a go and experiment – it works like magic!)

Add it all together and you get what you see at the top of this email 🙂

I’m stoked that Sonia took the time to go out of her way and get this shot (plus a handful of other great ones too) because although I later joined her in Slovakia and we were going to head back up to the mountains together, subsequent bad weather plus my man-flu put paid to that plan.

So now, just like you, I get to enjoy it through Sonia’s lens 🙂

Talk soon,


P.S If you want to master the layer masking techniques that were so important in crafting this image in Photoshop, you can find them all in my Luminosity Masking Mastery course – click here to get it now.