I’m writing this gallery post on a chair overlooking Sydney Harbour in the botanical gardens, and the view itself would make for a great post. The international fleet review is on in Sydney at the moment and you never know when a warship or tall shop will pass you by. I had to get up super early to get this shot and I did so because of the beautiful cool blue tone you can get on the city skyline, its taken from the Balmain area of Sydney (check map below). The sun rises directly behind the city from this location and some mornings it can look like its on fire. What’s interesting about this shot is that in a few years it will be completely transformed from this shape. All along the shoreline development has gone into overdrive with lots of apartment buildings being constructed, along with a new casino I’d heard.

There’s a few buildings amongst the city CBD which are quite aesthetically pleasing, its the greenish glass ones in the centre, plus I love the beehive/lattice veneered building on the far right.

Post-Processing and Software:

This was done using a combination of techniques that I have learnt and bringing them together into one HDR work flow. The shot was made using a total of 5 bracketed exposures but to control the highlights from the rising sun behind the city I used a HDR workflow that incorporates the use of +/- 10 stops of control within Lightroom !!! This is a huge amount of data !!! I learnt the technique originally from Matt Kosklowski, from Scott Kelby Media. I then used luminosity masking to the best of my advantage, which I initially learnt the basics off of Jimmy Mcintyre, and expanded the process from there. As always I like to use a filter program to make small adjustments to the image to give that extra pop. This particular occasion I used OnOne’s Perfect Effects 4.

It was an awesome workflow, if I do say so myself ! haha maybe I will share it in my tutorials one day, write out the complete process.

Anyways heres the software I used and any discounts I can pass on to my readers at lukezeme.com

– Adobe Photoshop CC  used to layer, mask, make adjusments plus much much more

– Adobe Lightroom 5 catalog and adjustment program

– On1 Perfect Effects – An amazing Filter program to stylise your images. Comes as a standalone filter program which can also be launched from Lightroom, Photoshop or Aperture.

– Topaz DeNoise 5  – A really powerful noise reduction software add-on. 15% off all Topaz software use discount code LukeZemePhotography

– On1 Perfect Resize – this program uses fractal algorithms to resize your images for printing or other purposes, fantastic program. Can purchase it as a standalone or as a part of the perfect photo suite.

Example of some of the Layers involved in the post-processing of this image.

I’ve started creating constructive merged layers as I work, so that I can back track at any stage during my workflow. The final result is saved as a TIFF with all the layers and then I save a merged JPEG.

So if I were to want to make changes to the “Brightness/Contrast 2” layer, I can simply select it and make the adjustments necessary and it  has not been a destructive process.


Image Location:

View Sydney at Dawn in a larger map


Thanks, Luke

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
Contact Us

Please use this contact form for any enquiries and we will get back to you asap. Thanks :-) Thanks, Luke