Sunrise at Hanauma Bay Rim Trail (Hawaii)

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I took this photo while visiting Hawaii for the first time. The highlight of the trip was early morning hike along the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail on O’ahu Island.

It was a beautiful and warm morning but when I reached the top of the crater the wind became extremely strong and gusty. I had to hold my tripod with both hands to minimize the camera shakes and to prevent it from flying away.

Hawaii. O’ahu. Hanauma Bay Rim Trail
Loc: 21.272665, -157.6987727


The light of the scene was very dynamic with the bright sun and the dark shadows. I knew from the beginning that in order for me to pull this shot I had to shoot for HDR. I took 3 bracketed shots with 2EV intervals  (-2, 0, +2) plus I used exposure compensation -1EV so the actual exposure values of the shots were -3, -1, +1.


I keep experimenting with my editing workflow trying to streamline it and make it more efficient.

For today’s shot, I decided to stay away from pure Natural Look. I wanted to try something more creative and maybe even edgy.

First, I merged 3 bracketed shots for HDR using the new Lightroom Merge tool. I outlined this technique in my latest tutorial “Lightroom HDR – Natural Looking HDR In Lightroom”.

After I produced the HDR image I used a Lightroom preset based editing.

I started applying different presets from my Landscape Collection to HDR image. I selected the following looks that I liked the best: Brocken Clouds, Skyshine, Clock Tower and Tropical Morning.

After I played with ToolKit adjustments and compared 4 versions again, the obvious winner was Broken Clouds look.

Preset: Skyshine

Preset: Clock Tower

Preset: Tropical Morning

Preset: Broken Clouds

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Processing: Lightroom HDR Preset Based Workflow

Lightroom: import, tagging, HDR Merge, preset based processing (Brocken Clouds preset from Landscape Collection)
Photoshop: contrast, color correction, cleaning and removing distracting elements with the help of the Stamp Tool. I used the Content-Aware Move Tool to move the sun area slightly to the left.

Photoshop Plugins: 

  • Topaz DeNoise was used to reduce digital noise (sky, ocean).
  • Topaz Clarity was used to enhance details and boost colors (mountain, grass).