Tropical Sunrise at East Coast of O’ahu (Hawaii)

That was probably the most spectacular sunrise I got to witness in my life. Of course, the weather and the location played a big part in it. Only two days before I took the featured photo I was in freezing Montreal where the temperature was below -20°C for 3 weeks in a row and now, after short 12-hour flight, I was in the tropics hiking the volcanos and witnessing sun rising over the Pacific Ocean.

Hawaii. O’ahu
Loc: 21.306406, -157.651981


When I analyzed the scene before shooting, I could see the very dark areas below me, the town was shaded by the mountain. At the same time, despite the sky was being mostly covered by thick clouds, I could see a few extremely bright spots above the horizon. It made me change the exposure bracketing intervals from 1EV to 2EV to cover the entire dynamic range of the scene.

I took 3 bracketed shots with 2EV intervals (-2, 0, +2) on a tripod standing on top of Lanikai Pillbox Trail


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

When I had brand new HDR image I created in a previous step, I started editing approach I outlined in Introduction to Lightroom Rapid Editing System. I liked the effect of Sunrise preset from Landscape Collection and later used ToolKit adjustments to fine tune image.

The Lightroom Preset Editing Formula: Sunrise (1, 10, 12, 21, 39)

Later, I decided to add more “fire” to the sky and used the Graduated Filter to add more red color to the left part of the sky.


Deconstructing Featured Photo

Camera: Sony a6000
Lens: Sony 10-18mm
Focal Length: 14mm
ISO: 100
Aperture: F9
Shutter Speed: 1/400, 1/100, 1/25
Tripod: FEISOL Tournament CT-3442  – Check my FEISOL Tournament CT-3442 Review.
Ballhead: FEISOL CB-40D

Processing: Lightroom HDR Preset Based Workflow

Lightroom: import, tagging, cropping, HDR Merge, preset based processing (Sunrise preset from Landscape Collection)
Photoshop: contrast, color correction, cleaning with the help of the Stamp Tool.

Photoshop Plugins: 

  • Topaz DeNoise was used to reduce digital noise (sky, ocean).
  • Topaz Clarity was used to enhance details and boost colors (town, mountains).
Archiving: I save all my photos as JPEG (quality: 100%) at full resolution and with the help of the Lightroom plugin, I synchronized them with my portfolio on SmugMug for safekeeping, sharing, image hosting and online sales.

Do not forget that my FREE Lightroom Preset Collection is always free for all subscribers to my newsletter.