Sunrise At Victoria Peak - Hong Kong
3 years, 8 months ago 7

Sunrise At Victoria Peak – Hong Kong

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Golden Rays of an Eastern Sunrise

There comes a point when a photographer begins to doubt the intentions of the weather gods. After four 4:00am wake ups, and four failed sunrise shoots, my faith was beginning to wane. As we slowly meandered to our usual spot, way up high on Victoria peak, it was too dark to make an accurate assessment of the cloud cover.

Once we’d set up our cameras, we sat on the ground and waited. As blue hour began to unfold a small sliver of orange cut across the horizon. If only that gap could stay open long enough for the sun to pass by it!

We waited, and waited, and the gap began to close. I was feeling anxious. Yet, as fate would have it, the only section of the gap that didn’t close was exactly the space we needed. As the sun rose, it peaked through this tiny space and give us around ten minutes of gentle colour. It was all we needed.

And, as quickly as it arrived, it had disappeared. It was by no means a dramatic sunrise, but we both felt it was worth the wait. We didn’t return the next morning. It was time to give our bodies some much needed rest.

The Cool Bits – Technical Info

Processing Time: 1 hour
Exposure Blending method: Luminosity Masks and hand
No. of Exposures: 4
EV Range: 0, -2, +1 (And a -2 sunrise shot)
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 16mm (Blue hour shots)/15mm (Sunrise shot)
Lens: Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8
Camera: Nikon D800
Plugins: Nik Color Efex for local contrast adjustment and change of light
Luminosity Masks:
Used for recovering highlights and shadows.

Today’s Photo – Hong Kong Skyline

Please remember that my Art of Digital Blending course, and The Masterclass Post-Processing pack will go up in price very soon, so now is the best time to invest: Luminosity Mask Course

This was a very interesting image to process. I was stuck in two minds. On the one hand, I had a nice blue hour shoot, with plenty of mood. On the other, I had a sunrise image with some colour in the sky but the city was flat and grey, as the city lights had slowly been turned off.

Therefore, to create an image with the greatest amount of mood, I decided to combine the two scenes. In my imagery, mood always comes first. If an image doesn’t evoke an emotional response in me I won’t publish it, even if it’s cleanly processed and nice enough to look at it.

digital-blendingI created a balanced blue hour shot by combining 3 exposures with luminosity masks. Then I placed the sunrise shot on top of those 3 layers. Since this was shot at a different focal distance than the other three exposures, I selected all 4 exposures and used the Auto-Align function (Edit>Auto-Align), to line them up.

Then I created a black mask on the sunrise layer, making it invisible, and with a white brush set at 50% opacity, I started to gently paint in the area of the sky with the sunrise. To add more colour to that region of the sky, I painted in some warm colours. You can learn how to do this in a tutorial I wrote recently: How To Add Warmth To a Sunset or Sunrise.

Through a Color balance layer I increased the greens, while removing a small amount of the blue colour cast.

I used Nik Color Efex to increase local contrast, and used the Darken/Lighten Center filter to brighten the sky and create a gentle vignette around the rest of the image.

Before/After Comparison



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  • Tobias

    By far the most beautyful Hong-Kong Picture i’ve seen!

    • Jimmy McIntyre

      Thank you very much Tobias!!!

  • Julien

    Really cool stuff. I really like your work. I’m planning to take your advanced tutorial package.. in the process of acquiring the required PS plugins.

  • Don

    I think your before and after shots are mixed up. Fantastic photo though.

    • Jimmy McIntyre

      Thanks Don. The before/after is correct :) After correcting distortion and blending a sunset exposure, the final result is very different from the original!

  • Joe

    When i merge layers it becomes “Levels 1” & i cannot see my layers? Thanks

  • Tony Piazza

    Can I ask what spot you took the photo? It seems like this is farther left on the mountain than the peak where the tourist center is. Great shot! Very beautiful! Thanks.