Sunday, January 13, 2013


Playing With Sunset Colors

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In this tutorial, we are about to discuss a topic some would call it as "Manipulating a Photo". I prefer to call it "Playing with Colors". Because I view photography as an art, and an absolute freedom of expression, so there is nothing wrong with beautifying a photo through playing with its colors.

I'll be using one of my recent photos as an example: Sunset @ Kota Kinabalu!

Here is the final photo for your reference:

And here is the original photo, straight out of Photomatix using the same techniques described in "The Basics of HDR":

First step in editing a photo is to conjure the final image in the mind, before working towards it. I identified that I would like to correct the warmth of the photo, add a little contrast and saturation to it, and finally make it a little soft.

Before entering Color Efex Pro 4, I've made some corrections such as Chromatic Aberration, removing trees, and vignette correction, as mentioned in "HDR Post-Processing Tutorial".

Moving in Color Efex Pro 4, I first started with Detail Extractor, with 75% opacity.

Next, I went on to Tonal Contrast with higher highlights and lower shadows, and set the opacity to 25%, as I only wanted a minor boost in color.

Then, I bumped up the Warmth significantly to give it more "sunset" feel to the photo.

Here, I'm using a new filter not mentioned before in my normal HDR workflow, but I believe it gives the stunning effect that I want in my photo. This filter is none other than Duplex! The color in the Duplex filter is very important here as it acts like a color filter over the photo and has a major impact.

Strength will affect the intensity of the selected color.
Diffusion will affect the overall softness of the photo.

Lastly, I do like a little purple/pink in my sunset, not sure why, but it does look quite pretty. So I'm adding the Duplex filter again but this time, I changed the color to purple/pink. I'm trying to add very trace amount of the color, so I'm having 0% strength, and 25% opacity. Lastly, diffusion is 0% because the right amount of softness is already set in the previous Duplex filter.

And there we have it! I completed the final picture by adding a Darken / Lighten Center filter, and some dodge and burns to selected areas.

I hope you had as much fun as me, playing around with the colors of the sunset, and do leave a comment below on your sunset photos, and your application of the Duplex filter! I'll see you soon!