How to Post Process: The Sunset Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui

How to Post Process: The Sunset Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how I post process this picture, The Sunset Pier in Tsim Sha  Tsui, Hong Kong.

Sunset TST Pier - Before After

This picture was taken in 15th Nov, 2013 at the roof a car park which is located in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. That was sunset time and the sun was on the left of this picture. I was waiting for a warmer tone in magic hour. However, I saw there was so much black cloud moving towards the sun. Therefore, I took this picture before the black cloud moved into the picture. I tried to use a Nikkor 35mm f/2D prime because I didn’t want so much distortion on the building but it was not wide enough. Then, I changed to a Nikkor 24mm f2.8D prime which was just wide enough to capture both the building and the pier. AsI was capturing the image, I had already decided to post process to image so buildings would be all straight.

Lightroom Post Process

When you open up the raw file in Lightroom 5, it look like this.

Sunset Pier in TST - Original

Step 1

The image look too grey now, the first step is to adjust the all the basic slider so as to open up a little bit the shallow part and add more saturation to the image.

  • LR Setting - BasicWhite Balance: -200 to 4500, so that the image will not look too yellow.
  • Contrast: +41 in order to make the image look less grey.
  • Shadow: +max, to open up all the shadow part.
  • Black: -24, add back some black into the image, I want it to just hit the black clipping point.
  • Clarity, Vibrance, Saturation: +20, +10, +10 my default setting on landscape photo

After these setting, the image should look like this.

After Basic Lightroom

Step 2

Upright SettingThis look much better already. Then we need to straighten all the building. Lightroom 5 have a great upright function which should do a great job in this photo. Before clicking the Auto button, remember check the Enable Profile Corrections checkbox. The automatic upright function works extremely great on this kind of cityscape photo. It should look like this after upright.

After Upright

Step 3

Wow, it now looks like I took this picture with a 24mm tilt-shift. :D Then, I would like to create more depth to the cloud. It looked beautiful in the sense, but it now look a little bit flat. What I am going to do is to add more clarity to the cloud only.

  1. Adjustment Brush SettingIn this step, we will need the Adjustment Brush, simply press K to activate it.
  2. We need to add more clarity to the cloud, therefore you need to make sure all the items are set to 0 except Clarity. It should be set to 100 as we want to add more clarity to see the effect first. If it is too much then we can just simply slide it to the left to reduce the effect.
  3. Set the brush size and paint the whole sky. As you are painting, you should see the painted area pops out.Paint Area
  4. Put your mouse on the little dot of the mask for a second and it will should you the painted area in pink mask like the above image.
  5. You should end up with the photo like this after this step.DSC_8517-4
  6. Then we can press command+E or ctrl+E to open the tuned image in Photoshop.

Photoshop Post Process

Photoshop LayerAfter the Lightroom post process, our photo have already transform from a good one to a great one. The next step is to add some style to make it more unique. In this tutorial, I am using Topaz Adjust 5 and Topaz ReStyle from Topaz Labs Photoshop Plugins for the styling process. Before you retouch anything, it is extremely important that you must remember to press command+J or ctrl+J to duplicate the original layer. If there is any mistake which is un-reversible, you can still get back to the original and start over.

Topaz Adjust 5 Retouch

  1. Open up Topaz Adjust 5 in filter.
  2. Then choose Dynamic Pop II in the presets and press OK. The sea, the building and the sky are three different elements. Therefore, I am going to retouch them separately.Topaz Adjust Setting
  3. Photoshop Layer - After Topaz Adjust 1After you hit OK, you should have two layers, the top layer is Topaz Adjusted and the lower layer is the original layer. Duplicate the Topaz Adjusted layer twice by hitting command+J or ctrl+J twice. You can rename the layer to something that you won’t mix up.
  4. First I am going to retouch the sea. Press W to select the Quick Selection Tool and roughly select the sea. Then press command+opt+R or ctrl+alt+R to call out refine edge dialogue. Add some feather to the selection. Then press OK.Layer Mask of the Sea
  5. Layer Mask Setting of the SeaSelect the sea layer and then press the layer mask icon to create a layer mask. This mask will make the adjusted layer show only the white part in the layer mask.
  6. Reduce the opacity of the sea layer so as to reduce the Dynamic Pop II effect. The original effect is too strong. Play with the slider and try out your own value. I used 40%.
  7. Repeat the step 4 to 7 for the sky layer.
  8. For the building layer, we are going to do the same. But this time we need to select all the un-adjusted area. Hold down command key or ctrl key and click the two layer mask, the small rectangle with only black and white colour. Remember you need to click the layer mask but not the layer itself. At this time you should select both the sea and the sky. Then press command+shift+I or ctrl+shift+I to reverse the selection. Create a layer mask for the building layer and change the opacity like sea layer and sky layer.
  9. Press command+opt+shift+E or ctrl+alt+shift+E to combine all layer into one new layer. You should be making something like this. You can turn off the eye on the lower layer. They are for backup uses.Image After Topaz Adjust 5
  10. Blue Layer SettingI think the connection between sky and building is not blue enough. Therefore, I decide to add more blue colour into that area. Press command+shift+N or ctrl+shift+N to create a new white layer. Set its blending mode colour.
  11. Paint some blue colour on the new layer carefully and you should get an image like this.

Topaz Adjust 5 Retouched

Topaz ReStyle Retouch

After I use Topaz Adjust 5 to retouch, I am going to use Topaz ReStyle to create a different colour tone to my image. I’d like to have a mild yellow colour tone to create a little but autumn feel. Here’s how I did it.

  1. Before you retouch anything, again, remember to create a new layer so that you can go back at anytime. Use command+opt+shift+E or ctrl+alt+shift+E to combine all visible layer into a new layer.
  2. Open up Topaz ReStyle and choose “Landscape” in collection, then “Silver and Ivory Cloak” in presets.Topaz ReStyle Setting
  3. Play with layer blending mode and opacity to create feel that you like. After some test, I choose blending mode: Normal and opacity: 45%. You will get something like this.

After Topaz ReStyle

Adding Texture to the Image

After Topaz ReStyle, the final step is to add some texture onto the image. But don’t over do this, otherwise this will ruin the whole picture.

  1. Open the texture file as smart object and then transform it to cover the whole image like this.Texture Setting
  2. Play around with blending mode and opacity. I use normal blending mode with opacity of 5%.

Final Image

Sunset TST Pier - Final Image

So, you are all done. These are the steps that I used to post process this image. How do you think? Share your thought in the comment. If you have download my RAW file for playing, share your work on the comment session too. I’d be happy to see how you post process my photo.