Before and After: Cuba’s Beach Sunrise Photo Processed for HDR in Photoshop

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For today’s Before&After post I’ve chosen the photo of beautiful Cayo Coco beach, which I took during my last trip to Cuba.

Cuba. Cayo Santa Maria

For this particular photo, I used Photoshop + Lightroom HDR workflow. Photoshop HDR Pro was used to tone map 3 bracketed exposures. Check my free Natural Looking HDR Photography Guide where I outlined my workflow in detail (including source files).

If you’d like to follow along, I’ve included my source files with this post (original RAW files, layered Photoshop file (PSD), and Lightroom preset). You can download all the files at the end of the post.

Step 1

I imported 3 bracketed raw images into Lightroom. I applied Lens Corrections to all images and used command
Edit In > Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop…

Please check my Natural Looking HDR Photography Guide for more details.

Brackets (-2; 0; +2)

Step 2

32-bit merged TIFF file was imported back to Lightroom. I cropped the photo to achieve a more balanced composition.

Steps 3-8

The following edits were applied in Lightroom.

If you want to avoid manual labor of adjusting a countless number of sliders in Lightroom, you can explore Preset Based Lightroom Editing when with only one click you can apply a variety of looks and styles to your photos. If you are interested in learning more about Preset Based Lightroom Editing, check my Landscapes Lightroom Presets  Collection Vol.1.

Steps 9-12

Final touches were performed in Photoshop. I used the following plugins: Topaz Labs Detail, Topaz DeNoise.

I used Topaz Labs Detail plugin to enhance details (see settings below) and Topaz DeNoise to eliminate noise, mostly in the area of the sky and water (Preset: RAW – moderate)
Topaz Labs Detail and Topaz DeNoise Settings:

Final step: the photo was saved as JPG at full resolution and uploaded to my portfolio at SmugMug for safekeeping, sharing and online sales.

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