Crafting Epic Landscapes with Aurora HDR and Luminar

Crafting Epic Landscapes with Aurora HDR and Luminar

I you love landscape photos as much as I do, this video might help give you some ideas for editing them successfully in Macphun products. Enjoy!

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Aurora HDR Workflow video: New Mexico sunset

Aurora HDR Workflow video: New Mexico sunset

Finally, a new video! In this one I edit a sunset HDR from New Mexico in Aurora HDR and add a few filters to get it looking just right!

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Sunset at Lime Kiln Point

Sunset at Lime Kiln Point

Today I share some sunset pics from a trip to Friday Harbor, Washington that we took last summer.  It ended up being a pretty nice sunset, and the dramatic setting of a lighthouse on the shore just made it that much more special!

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The altar of Iglesia Catedral

You never know what you might find when you wander!

I'm a fan of wandering.  Although I like to plan where I want to shoot in any particular city, I still leave wandering time for myself.  It's a key part of getting things done, in my opinion.  You never really know what you might find when you are milling about somewhat aimlessly.  I have captured many a fine photo doing just that.

This is a great example.  I was in Panama City, Panama and wandering in their Casco Viejo area, which is their historic old city center.  It's a beautiful area full of buildings adorned in the old Spanish Colonial style.  I really like it there.

I had this church on my list, because I had seen photos of the exterior, but was not at all familiar with what the inside would have to offer.  There was some construction around the entrance that day, and a cleaning crew was taking care of business inside, but I stepped in anyways and just started making my way to the altar.  I could see if was pretty interesting, and it was definitely worth the stop!

Here's a "behind the keyboard" view of the shot while I was processing it:

That's part of the awesomeness of Color Efex Pro.  You can easily brighten areas that need it, increase the detail of specific areas, and make color saturation adjustments too.  Powerful stuff!

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh

I only had half a day in Edinburgh, but I made the most of it!

Edinburgh, Scotland is a beautiful town.  I wish I had more time there on my visit last year, but sadly I did not.  That happens.  I was in Glasgow on business and, having arrived on a Saturday, decided to take the train up to Edinburgh on Sunday.  So after sleeping in that morning, I headed on up to Edinburgh. 

Why didn't I get up early and spend more time there?  Good question.  Here's the answer: I cannot sleep on planes.  I try and try, and never succeed.  So on all my Europe trips, I am awake all night.  Hence, I tend to leave a day early, knowing full well that I will crash hard the first night and sleep in a bit the following morning.  Ok, enough about that.

So when I was Googling all things Edinburgh, I saw this pub mentioned several times, so I made sure to stop by and get some shots.  No, not those kind of shots.  I'm talking about photos here.  ;-)  Anyways, it's rather cool looking and though it started to rain on me as I stood there, I'm glad I got the shot.  Maybe on a future visit to Scotland I can spend a little more time here and really get to know the city, because it's quite lovely!

Here's a "behind the keyboard" screenshot from Color Efex Pro, for the fun of it:

Sunset in Corpus Christi

This is a really old photo - and I just brought it to life!

Ahhh, the power of software.  I am not secretive or ashamed that I use software to make my photos better.  I love doing it, and I love sharing what I do.  It's just fun.  Some people don't like that photos are adjusted, but I don't care.  It's ok if they don't like the idea of adjusting photos by using various software products - everyone can make up their own minds about these things, of course - but I just disagree.

I believe that photos NEED to be adjusted.  They just look better...much better.  Plus, the camera doesn't actually capture it the way it was anyways.  Cameras just make some decisions here and other decisions there, depending on what you tell it to do...and then it still isn't the same as what you saw.  Anyways, I am somewhat off topic here.

I took this photo several years ago while in Corpus Christi, TX on a little vacation with the family.  I still remember this clearly.  We had an early dinner, and when we were departing the restaurant, this was the scene I saw.  It was beautiful, so I took a quick single exposure.

But, when I started processing it the other day, I decided to give it a bit more punch than the scene actually had.  I gave it more of a golden hour touch and just generally ended up with something that wasn't exactly what I saw, but I like it.  So, here it is.  It's art, and it's my art, so I did what I wanted here.  That's cool right?  Here's a screenshot, in case you are curious.

Four Courts, Dublin

I finally got a good shot of this thing!

I have been to Dublin several times now, and each time I have seen this wonderful building, standing so tall and interesting next to the River Liffey.  But, each time I have not really loved the photo that I have ended up with.  It's different reasons each time, but nonetheless I wasn't totally thrilled with any of them.

And by the way, this is the Four Courts Building in Dublin, which is the seat of their Supreme Court, among other things.  I just like the architecture, and the fact that it sits next to the river (and it's close to the oldest pub in Ireland, which is the subject of a post I hope to get to soon).

But, this time was different.  As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I just returned from a trip to Dublin (and then on to Glasgow) and was able to get in quite a few shots in both towns.  And despite the rain threatening in Dublin, I kept getting my shots in without too much incident, rain-wise.  It just worked out.  The great thing about rain (yes, I just said that!) is that rain comes via clouds, and clouds can add a lot of interest and drama to a shot.  

Take this photo, for instance.  Although I like the shot a lot, I admit the sky adds a different (and more interesting) element to the shot. If there were no clouds in the sky and it was a clear blue, I would be pretty bored with it.

Anyways, it worked out great for me last week, and I am trying to find a little time to process more shots from the trip - so much to work on!  (and that's a good problem)

Here's a Before and After in case you want to see the processing steps that I took while working on this one in Color Efex Pro:


Just another alley in Bratislava

Do you ever wander down alleys?

I love wandering down alleys in search of images.  Back streets, alleys...they are often overlooked but I think they are rich in photographic opportunities.  Don't you?

find life experiences and swallow them whole. travel. meet many people. go down some dead ends and explore dark alleys. try everything. exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life.  - lawrence k. fish

That is definitely one of my all-time favorite quotes.  It's just so awesome and inspirational, and I happen to think that it's also great advice.  Do I do all that stuff?  Maybe yes sometimes, and other times no.  I'm not going to lie and say I am some total "carpe diem" maniac living life to its fullest.  I do my part, I think, and have a good time, but it's not all fun and games, as the old saying goes.  It just can't be.

Anyways, I didn't really mean to get into all that, just rambling here at the keyboard.  :-)

I was in Bratislava about 2 years ago, and still think about it often.  It's a beautiful town and I found quite a bit to shoot there.  I also wandered a lot of the old back streets and came home with a lot of images like this one that I just happen to really like.  They're not going to get published, and likely will never sell, but I just don't really care.  They're meaningful to me despite their relative insignificance.  Does that make any sense?

Plus, I just happen to like all the detail, texture, and all the lines that your eye follows here.

Oh and before I ramble on too much and forget, here is a screen shot from Color Efex Pro that I grabbed while I was editing this one.  I actually went a little dark on the HDR in Photomatix but after a few filters it's looking good!

Sunrise at Trinity College

Sometimes you get up early and Mother Nature rewards you!

I say here often that sunrise is one of the best times to shoot, and I really think that.  Yes it's hard to get up but I find that it is nearly always worth it.  Sure, some mornings just turn out crappy but usually I end up with plenty of keepers.

The thing is that it is impossible to predict. You never know what you might get.  With sunset, you have the benefit of checking out the weather report, looking outside at the sky and then making a decision.  Plus let's face it - you're already awake.

But with sunrise, it's a total gamble.  

When I travel to Europe, I prefer sunrise though since I can wander the streets of whatever town I am in without all the tourists in the way.  I just prefer my shots that way, plus I actually enjoy being able to walk around by myself, undisturbed, while doing some creative work.  It's fun.

This image was taken on the campus of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland one beautiful morning.  See?  Sometimes you do get rewarded.

And here's a "behind the keyboard" showing the HDR before I added filters in Color Efex Pro (left side) and the image after the filters were applied (right side).  I hope you don't mind these little Before/After comparisons because I sure enjoy sharing them.

New Sweden Lutheran Church

Who knew the Swedes had a big presence in Central Texas?  Not me.

But they do.  You can read all about it on the interwebz if you want to.  I had heard a couple of things over the years about the Swedish immigrants who settled in Austin back in the 1800's, but really didn't know anything about them (and honestly, still don't).

But I just find that really interesting, mostly because Austin and Sweden have got to be so completely different.  It's amazing that back then, families would just pick up and move halfway around the world to someplace like Texas, sight unseen.  It's not like they could look it up on the web and get a sense of it.  Many people today wouldn't even pick up and move halfway around the world for something, despite everything they could learn from Googling it.

Anyways, outside of Austin is a little town called Manor, and outside of that sits this lovely church on a small road in the middle of a bunch of fields.  It's clearly an agricultural area, and this church dominates the landscape.  That 104 foot tall steeple is hard to miss!

I was there on a cloudy, overcast day and while editing the shot, I just felt like pushing it a little and going for a moody version, so that's what I got for ya today friends.

And since I am in the sharing mood, here's a "behind the keyboard" look at Color Efex Pro while I was editing the shot: