There’s nothing quite like a sunburst to add that last punch to a fantastic landscape. Last week we covered the composition, settings, and environmental factors needed to snap a crisp sunburst. Today, we will finish up in Lightroom and Photoshop.
When dealing with extreme dynamic range, it’s usually sufficient to shoot a few bracketed exposures and use Lightroom’s HDR merge feature to combine them into a single DNG. Sadly, HDR merge won’t work with our finger trick, so we will need to manually composite the exposures in Photoshop.
While many photographers process their landscapes entirely in Photoshop, I prefer a Lightroom-centric workflow. The limitations and non-destructive nature save me time by helping me focus on global adjustments over tedious local adjustments.
This tutorial covers some tricks you’ll need to enjoy a Lightroom-heavy workflow while compositing the exposures in Photoshop. If you’re new to compositing in Photoshop, you’ll want to check out a previous tutorial with some tricks for aligning smart objects manually.
Honestly, I’m pretty frustrated with the tedium of working between Lightroom and Photoshop. I’ve spent weeks trying every possible angle, and run into mostly dead ends:
- No guided deghosting for HDR merge
- No syncing between Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom catalog
- No separate sidecar file for DNGs
- No auto-align for smart objects
- Unusable editing of the Photoshop document in Lightroom
- Buggy support for linked smart objects
Better support for any one of these features would make the roundtrip workflow much simpler. Until then, you may decide to bite the bullet (and bigger hard drive) to process the composite entirely in Photoshop, but I’m hoping Adobe fills in the gaps in upcoming releases.
How do you process your sunburst shots? Have you settled on a post processing workflow you like? If you know an easier non-destructive roundtrip workflow between Lightroom and Photoshop, feel free to share it in the comments!