Turn good sunrise photos into great photos with a little help from Lightroom (video)

Although there isn’t any data to support our intuition, we believe that sunrise scenes are among the common images posted by outside photographers. And while many of your shots may look very good straight from the camera, there are some simple editing tricks to make them look great.

In the live tutorial below from Phlog Photography, you’ll learn a simple way to classify colors to give your sunrise photos a warm and dreamy look. Instructor Christian Mohrle gets most of the tasks done in Lightroom, before turning to Photoshop to clean up the image and making use of the Nik Collection plugin for the finishing touch.

Mohrle says, “My goal is to make the whole scene warmer, while still including some shades of blue in the image.” As he explains, this is due to his preference for vibrant images.

Before starting the episode, we suggest you download the Raw demo file in the description below the video, so you can go ahead and apply the edits yourself.

As always, Mohrle changes the camera profile before he starts editing, and here he chooses Adobe Landscape to provide a bit more base saturation. He also makes improvements in a specific order, which is to start with global adjustments to the entire scene.

To further amplify warm colors, Mohrle adjusts the white balance before switching to exposure. Since the raw image is a bit dark, it pumps up exposure as well as black and white. Then, to avoid overexposure, he drops the highlights a bit before adding texture, clarity, and vibrancy.

Some local adjustments are then made, including a linear gradient to darken the sky and a radial gradient to add some glow. To adjust colors, Mohrle reduces blue tones and enhances the saturation of yellow and orange. It also uses the split tone effect – to warm up highlights and midtones while softening shadows.

All that’s left is to clean up in Photoshop and add extra warmth with the Nik plugin.

There are more helpful tips on Mohrle’s YouTube channel and in a tutorial we posted from another expert, explaining how to use polarization filters to dramatically improve landscape photos.

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