Sunset Over the Gulf of Mexico With Rain Shower

How I created this award winning image

During an incredible sunset on the west coast of Florida, I was amazed by the lone cloud formation in the foreground and how it added depth and interest to the scene. Then, when part of the formation started to rain out, I knew it would make an interesting photograph.

This was part of a shoot during this amazing sunset that included over a hundred exposures. I started shooting the sunset at 7:40pm and ended at 8:12pm EDT. This photo was late in the sunset at 8:01 pm EDT on August 27, 2015. I shot this from a balcony, 100 feet above the beach at Naples, Florida. Coordinates: 26°15’41” N 81°49’29” W.

The equipment I used for the shot

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
  • Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod
  • Manfrotto Ball Head
  • Canon Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3


The final HDR image was composed from five exposures from-2v to +2ev. I used manual focus and aperture priority mode.

Here are the five photos I shot and used to create the final image:

The longest of the exposures was 8 seconds. The shortest was 0.5 seconds. This gave the image an unusual and dramatic look, capturing and blurring the motion of the clouds and rain.

I used Photomatix Pro to build a tone mapped image from the five shots using a preset that I’ve perfected over the last few years. Then, I did a little bit of Photoshop to remove some dots that the raindrops on my lens filter added to the image.

The result is a dramatic sunset image with soft pastel-like colors and good detail at the same time.

The final image

Sunset Over the Gulf of Mexico With Rain Shower
Rain on the horizion from winged cloud at sunset over the Gulf of Mexico

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