City skylines, especially at night, are fun to photograph and can make fantastic HDR subjects! Discover how photographer, Angela Andrieux, uses Aurora HDR to improve her Skylines.
A Better Starting Point
Some of the highlights are still a touch too bright, the clouds lack definition, and the skyline doesn't have the warm glow we're looking for...yet.
We'll start by opening the Presets Panel - selecting User Presets - and then choose a custom preset I designed called Cityscape at Night. Presets are a great way to get a solid starting point, but they are infinitely customizable.
Adding Contrast and Detail to the Architecture and Sky
2. In the HDR Basic panel move the HDR Enhance slider significantly to the right.
3. Click on the Brush icon on Layer 1 and select Gradient Mask
We want the gradient effect to blend from the bottoms of the buildings into the river without a harsh transition so I'll click to start my gradient a little above the bottom of the buildings and then hold and drag my mouse down so that my gradient slightly overlaps the water.
Adding Color Contrast to the Sky
2. Click on the Brush icon on Layer 1 and select Brush
3. With the Brush activated, toggle the Mask Visibility Icon to show the mask. By default, the entire image is masked with red which means any filter used will affect the entire image.
4. Making sure our brush is in Paint mode, we'll create a small, soft-edged brush and start painting the area around the buildings. Its ok to let the feathered edge of the brush slightly overlap the buildings as it will minimize any halos and make a smooth transition between the sky and architecture.
7. Let's brighten up the sky by increasing the Exposure, Contrast, and Smart Tone in the HDR Basic panel.
9. To darken the blue tones we'll move the Blue slider to the left, and to lighten the magenta tones we'll move the Magenta slider to the right.
The Finishing Touch
1. Let's add one more adjustment layer (Click on the (+) button under the histogram and choose Add New Adjustment Layer).
2. Now scroll down to the Vignette filter.
3. Move the Amount slider to the left until the edges of the photo are slightly darkened.
- Go to the File menu and choose Export
- Choose a name and save location for your photo
- Select the amount of Sharpening desired (I chose Medium since we didn't apply any sharpening during our editing process)
- Resize your photo, if desired
- Choose your preferred Color space (Most print labs prefer sRGB)
- Pick your file Format (JPEG is the most universally accepted file format for print labs, but you may want to opt for a 16-bit TIFF for the highest quality)
- Select the Quality setting (Since we are printing this photo I want to ensure we have the best quality to work with so I'll make sure the Quality slider is set to High)