I pulled up at the nearest parkinglot after driving and musing about the shots I was about to take this wintery afternoon. It was colder than the past few days and the sky looked definitely more interesting than the weeks before that. Sure enough, the plummeting temperatures brought some hail, and was now at the foothills of the ‘Schoorlse Duinen’, just before sunset.

While the walk up to this barren patch of sand was uneventful, I was wandering through heathers and some shrubbery in search of a mushroom or two. There wasn’t much foreground interest in the landscape, but the sky was ablaze with golden colours. Perfect for some natural lighting macro work. I was about to call it a day, when I saw this impending cloud of wintery doom headed my way from the north. I figured I’d climb up the tallest dune in the area to catch a glimpse of the setting sun – foreground interest or not. As I pulled myself up from the sandy ridge of the dune, I got sandblasted right away and the cloud started to fall from the sky.

The wind picked up, blasting sand, hail, rain and snow all at once against the right side of my rainjacket hood. The sound of it flapping in the northerly gusts was absolutely deafening and I had to hunker down while the camera was out there taking five frames of this gorgeous sunset, exposed against the elements.

This is a composite of that moment. One frame for the sky, and one for the foreground. Another one for the bright hailstones there, and a fourth for brightening up the surrounding forest. And a fifth frame for reducing the highlights in the distant clouds. The five frames I then merged using luminosity masking and with some creative editing with Color Efex and more luminosity masking, I got this end result, thinking I’d share this with you.

I captured ‘Hail the Sunset’ in ‘de Schoorlse Duinen’, the Netherlands with the D750 at 14mm.