a25 April 2014

Post-processing workflow: Blue Sunset

before after


Time for another post in my Post-processing workflow series. For more posts from this series go here.

Today I will show you how I did post-process one of my favourite HDR images taken in last few months. I took it very recently by Vistula river bank in Warsaw, Poland. Despite the fact I was still in the boundaries of the city and just a few kilometres from its centre I managed to find a place that looked like being in the middle of wilderness. There I waited for sunset. It was very short but for a few minutes colours were really gorgeous.

In this case Before shows 0 EV exposure images and After shows finished image.

BTW to learn more about HDR photography, read my HDR tutorial.

Editing in Lightroom

This time the only adjustment I made in Lightroom was lens correction and chromatic aberration reduction. After that I exported my 5 exposures to Photomatix Pro 5.

Editing in Photomatix Pro

In Photomatix Pro 5 I used Contrast Optimizer tone-mapper with following settings.
Editing in Lightroom


After finishing processing my image in Photomatix I opened it in Photoshop CC and used luminosity masks to boost both contrast and colours a little bit.

In the image below you can see what layers exactly I used to create final image. Starting from bottom they are:
  1. Base - is an image produced by Photomatix Pro. As you can see I applied a few smart filters to it. By using smart filters I can edit the image non-destructively:
    1. Topaz Clarity - I increased clarity of the image using Topaz Clarity plug-in.
    2. Topaz Denoise 5 - as the image was taken when it was already quite late and I used Canon 50D which isn't as great in low-light as my main camera, there was some noise in the image. I removed it using Topaz Denoise plug-in.
    3. Camera Raw Filter - some small adjustments to white balance to make it bluer.
  2. Midtones contrast - I slightly increased midtones contrast by using Curves adjustment layer.
  3. Highlights contrast - I added some contrast to highlights (clouds and water) using Curves adjustments layer with Multiply blending mode to achieve darkening effect at the same time.
  4. Shadows contrast - I added some contrast to the darkest parts of the image using Curves adjustment layer.
  5. Shadows brightness - I slightly increased brightness of the shadows using Screen blending mode which has brightening effect.
  6. Lights brightness - I decreased brightness of the lightest parts of the image using Multiply blending mode. Please note that it isn't the same as Highlights contrast in point 3 as this time the effect was applied only to brightest parts of the clouds.
  7. Global vibrance - I increased vibrance by using Vibrance adjustment layer (+26).
  8. Highlights Color Balance - I moved color balance of the highlights towards magenta/blue just a little bit using Color Balance adjustments layer.
  9. Smart glow - I made the colours glow using simple trick with Gaussian blur. I will describe it later.
  10. Extra colour - I further increased saturation of colours using Topaz Adjust plugin. I set opacity of this layer to 50%.
  11. Sharpening - I sharpened the image using Smart sharpening filter. One of advantages of using this filter is that not only the result is very sharp but also noise is reduced at the same time.
Post-processing with luminosity masks

Finally, below you will find EXIF info:
Technical details:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 USM
Focal length: 12 mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure time: 1/6 s ("middle" exposure)
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 5
E.V. Step: 1.0
Flash used: no
Tripod: yes
Filters: no
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masking
Software: Magic Lantern, Photomatix Pro 5 (Contrast Optimizer), Lightroom 5.3, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity

Where was this photo taken:

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