Koko Head Sunset Lights (Hawaii)

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My last visit to Hawaii was very short for only 5 days and 4 nights. In order to fully take advantage of my short stay, I planned every sunrise and sunset of my stay well in advance.

My schedule on the island was simple: I woke up at 4am every morning and drove to the eastern or the southern shore of O’ahu to photograph the sunrise. The island is relatively small and, therefore, I could be at any part of the island within 30-40 minutes; no place was out of my reach.

In the middle of the day, I always rested on the beaches of O’ahu to ensure I was ready for my planned sunset hikes.

I took a featured photo from the Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Trail during my evening hike. The trail is remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, it has wide open views to both the southern and eastern shores of the island. Plus, it is the perfect location for photographing both sunsets and sunrises.

Travel Photography Blog - Hawaii. O'ahu Island. Koko Head
Hawaii. O’ahu Island. Koko Head
Loc: 21.304722, -157.651389


This was the very last photo of my sunset session that day. It was getting dark quickly and I took a series of three shots without using the bracketing functionality of the camera. Instead, I used exposure compensation, setting the value manually for each shot. With the aperture set to F4, I achieved the following shutter values: 30sec, 20sec and 13sec.


To produce the final image, I used 3 photos in total. 

First, I preprocessed 3 bracketed RAW images in Lightroom and then blended them together in Photoshop with the help of transparency masks (for more details check my Review: “The Art of Digital Blending”).

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog - Hawaii. O'ahu Island

Processing: Digital Blending with Lminosity Masks

Lightroom: import, tagging, contrast, color correction. I produced 3 separate images and exported them to Photoshop.
Photoshop I opened 3 bracketed photos directly in Photoshop and placed each image on separate layer. Then, I used luminosity masking techniques to blend everything together. I used the Stamp Tool to mask tree branches on the left side of the photo.

Photoshop Plugins: 

  • Topaz DeNoise was used to reduce digital noise (sky, water).
  • Topaz Clarity was used to enhance details and boost colors (foreground elements).