Colorful Hawaiian Sunset

This is one of the last pictures I took before we left Hawaii:

Colorful Hawaiian Sunset

I mainly wanted to post this picture up here so that I have a something pretty to look at while I build a few required pages on this new blog.

But also, when I previous posted this picture on my old site, Sire from the Wassup blog had asked that maybe I could post something about how I made this image. Well, since this blog does have "tips" in it's name ...

Here's a little secret for you. Good photography is not only about having a nice expensive camera (which I do), or having a good eye; what most people don't realize is that a lot of the magic is actually in the post processing.

Here's the image above as it looked straight from the camera:
sunset raw image

It's not bad, the colors are okay, but it's definitely nothing to write home about.

Unfortunately, at the time I processed this image, I didn't really plan to be doing "tutorials", so I didn't save a PSD with all the layers. In the future, if I do tutorials, I'll be sure to save screenshots. For this one though, I can definite share a few steps that I know I would have taken with an image like this.

First thing's first, I shoot almost all of my pictures in RAW format. If your camera has this option, it's well worth using. You can easily make adjustments to things like white balance, exposure, even colors before you ever actually "open" the image.

The next thing I might do with a colorful image like this is see if this tip that I got from a photography blog I follow will work well: Turn Ho-Hum Color into WOW! with Photoshop. I set this up as a photoshop action, so I just followed the steps once, and now if I want to do this, it's just a one button click. And since it makes the adjustments as a new layer, if I don't like it, I can just delete the layer, no harm, no foul.

Speaking of layers ...

Again, I can't be sure since I don't have the psd file, but this image most likely took a good 30-45 minutes to produce, and probably had a half dozen layers before it was all done. I'm a big fan of using layers for different color adjustments, and lighting features ... then making liberal use of the eraser and history brushes. One of these days I'll get around to becoming more proficient with masks, and probably save myself a bit of time.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed this basic "behind the scenes" look at making a colorful sunset picture. I promise that any future tutorials will have more supporting material. In the mean time, browsing around DPS (where that tutorial came from) could probably keep you busy for weeks.

Til next time, keep havin FuN!


  1. I love the pic. and the advice thanks. My kids and I have been to hawaii only once. but they want to go back. As well do I. Now I can take their pic.s and make them into something for them to love just as much as they did the trip.

  2. Hi Melissa,

    Glad you liked the picture. I was lucky enough to live in Hawaii 3 times. We've only been gone for a couple of weeks now. I'm sure the urge to at least visit again will start hitting me soon.


  3. Is that coconut? I have been interested in this planet, while I had no opportunity to go there. Thanks for your shared pictures. Really beautiful!

  4. i love the sunset!! :) i want to get married in Hawaii's sunset.

    ♥ faith barhum♥

  5. Hi Faith ... yes, a lot of people choose to get married in front of a nice Hawaiian sunset :-)


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