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'Moments in Time' Photo Editing Breakdown

In the latest episode of "Moments in Time" in the Philippines, I traveled to Legazpi along with Win Magsino to capture images of Mt. Mayon, a very beautiful and iconic volcano on the island of Luzon. In this post, I will take a more in-depth look at the post-processing that went into creating the final image.

To begin with, a large area of the mountains had recently suffered from a brush fire, so the initial location we wanted to use was still a charred mess, and in some areas, actually still on fire. Fighting against the clock with sunset rapidly approaching, we found a decent spot to set up and start shooting. To add some interest to the scene, I decided to use a 10-stop neutral density filter to create a two-minute exposure. This made the clouds streak across the sky, and the background was looking great. Unfortunately, the foreground had a massive hard shadow line on the mountains.

Straight out of camera: Fujifilm GFX 100, shutted speed: two minutes

By the time the sun went behind the low cloud line, the shadows disappeared, but so did the beautiful light on the background mountains, and even worse, the clouds had almost completely thinned out.

Straight out of camera - GFX 100 - Shutter Speed 1/30

I decided to take the best of both worlds and blend those two exposures together. That way, it was possible to keep the long exposure clouds and the light on the mountain, while getting rid of the harsh and distracting shadow line. Using a simple linear gradient on a layer mask, it was a simple process to seamlessly put these two images together.

With the technical part completed, the blended result was bland and needed a lot of love. Pretty much everything needed to be enhanced from the light to the colors and even the texture and sharpness. Using Skylum Luminar, I decided to apply a liberal amount of enhancement using a few choice modules, including Light, AI Enhance, Color, Details Enhancer, and Pro Contrast. The new version of Luminar works really quickly, even with my massive 100-megapixel Fujifilm GFX 100 files.

The result with a single pass from Luminar is pretty dramatic, but it definitely adds more punch to the overall image.

The final step I took was to add a little bit of dodging and burning to accentuate the highlights on the mountain tops. It’s subtle, but I think it makes a difference in the final image.

I plan to write more breakdowns for future episodes of "Moments in Time" since we only scratch the surface of post-processing on the show. If you want an incredibly in-depth look at how I create my images, check out the Photographing the World tutorials.

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9 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

Just my opinion but, better than SOOC but too much like bad HDR.

Elia Locardi's picture

Oh, I was going for the super overcooked look. Guess I didn't take it far enough! 😂

Deleted Account's picture

😂🤣😅

Mohammed Alamin's picture

Another awesome episode Elia. Still waiting to see you Skydive or Basejump.

Andres Entuna's picture

First time seeing that vantage point for Mayon :) Nice view!

The vantage point with the Cagsawa Church is the more common one, always used for postcards and the like.

Cris Magsino's picture

Beautiful shot Elia! Too bad I wasn't able to join you guys here. It was awesome to meet you though in Manila. Do visit us again here, will not miss out on it :)

Elia Locardi's picture

I'll be back to visit you guys as soon as it's possible. :)

Mattias Richter's picture

Agree that the Dodging & Burning makes all the difference. Would love for you to discuss your favourite modules in Luminar and how you combine Luminar with Photoshop (what is easier / quicker in Luminar vs what is better to do in PS)

Elia Locardi's picture

I just released a custom looks pack that applies my go-to combinations to Cityscape, Blue Hour, and Landscape images. Obvioulsy each shot can be unique but these looks dial most of it in right off the bat.