Photo of the Day: Look to the East (with free Color Efex Pro Preset)

Sunrise at Conata Basin, Badlands National Park, SD.  HDR image captured with a Nikon D800e and processed with the Nik Collection.
Sunrise at Conata Basin, Badlands National Park, SD. HDR image captured with a Nikon D800e and processed with the Nik Collection.

This is a sunrise image from my recent trip to the South Dakota Badlands. It’s a typical scenario at sunrise: pretty clouds and a back-lit foreground. I captured a standard ±2EV bracketed exposure series with the Nikon D800e (5-shots), and then processed the image in the Nik Collection (discount here).

One of the original shots shows the extreme contrast range I was dealing with:

When shooting into the bright morning sky, dynamic range easily exceeds that of your sensor.
When shooting into the bright morning sky, dynamic range easily exceeds that of your sensor.

Next, I sent all five images to HDR Efex Pro 2 for tone-mapping. I kept things really mild to preserve a clean look, although I did use a Control Point to brighten the foreground and add texture/contrast via the Structure Slider.

I tone-mapped the HDR image to be deliberately clean and I left the rest of my adjustments up to other tools in the Nik Collection.
I tone-mapped the HDR image to be deliberately clean and I left the rest of my adjustments up to other tools in the Nik Collection.

Lastly, I finished off the resulting HDR image using Color Efex Pro 4, also part of the Nik Collection. I used a combination of filters, including Skylight Filter, Tonal Contrast, Glamour Glow (localized to just the sky with a Control Point), and Pro Contrast. I brought the image back into LR5 for final cropping and sharpening.

I saved the set of filters I used for this image as a Custom Recipe file that you can download here for free. To install it, you’ll need to have an image open in Color Efex Pro 4 and use the “import” button from the Preset panel. A set of 26 custom presets is also included with my comprehensive guide to Color Efex Pro 4.

Complete Guides to the Nik Collection

 

One thought on “Photo of the Day: Look to the East (with free Color Efex Pro Preset)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 × four =