Point Sur Lightstation at Sunset (California)

Last Updated on

I always try to find and tell a story behind every travel photo that I post on my blog. But, I could not recall anything interesting about this shot.

This is one of those iconic places around Big Sur when you drive along California State Route 1. You can spot it quite often in TV commercials and movies. I was just lucky to pass Point Sur at the right time. It was not very comfortable outside of the car with a gusty, cold wind blowing from the ocean.

It was quite challenging to keep my tripod steady while taking a series of bracketed shots for HDR. But I was not complaining since the light was outstanding, illuminating the entire scene with a soft golden hue.

Point Sur Lightstation at Sunset (California)
California. Big Sur. Point Sur Lightstation
Loc: 36.326319, -121.894188

But the real story began when I started processing this photo back home. After years of working in graphic design and photography fields, I became quite efficient with Photoshop and Lightroom. My goal is to spend as little time as possible during the processing phase. On average I spend between 5min and 15min on every photo I post here.

This case was different. I spent at least 3 hours over a period of 2 weeks to process this photo. I ended up with a Photoshop file containing 25 layers and close to 1Gb in size. My main struggle was to get right of the colors and textures in the sky area. I used Lightroom, Photomatix, Photoshop, Topaz Labs plugins, Color Efex from Nik and Perfect Effects from onOne Software.

Various parts of the final photo were processed using different editing tools and later assembled together using luminosity masks.

I call it processing Frankenstein.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 5 Bracketed Shots (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2)
  • Camera: Canon 60D
  • Lens:  Sigma 17-70mm
  • Focal Length: 28mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Aperture: F9
  • Bracketing: 5 shots (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2)
  • Tripod: FEISOL Tournament CT-3442  – Check my FEISOL Tournament CT-3442 Review.
  • Ballhead: FEISOL CB-40D

Processing: HDR Processed in Photomatix 

Lightroom: import, tagging, export to Photomatix
Photomatix: I used 5  images to tone map image (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2), 16-bit tiff image was exported to Lightroom (Tutorial: Complete HDR Workflow).
Lightroom: straightening, cropping, export as PSD image
Photoshop:  cleaning,  removing HDR artifacts in water, contrast.

Photoshop Plugins: