WEDDING SEASON SALE! 30% Off Training Systems!

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
Tips & Tricks

How You Shot it- Laguna Beach HDR Landscape

By fotosiamo on August 13th 2012

This is a shooting tutorial that was submitted by Li Cheng in the SLR Lounge Forum.

Laguna Beach by Li Cheng

Laguna Beach by Li Cheng

Background and Vision

I have always been interested in shooting long exposures and sunsets over beautiful beaches. I wanted to shoot at a beach that has a rocky landscape instead of the typical sandy shoreline, which is why I chose Laguna Beach in Southern California. The final HDR image is a result of three bracketed photos.

How It Was Shot

Shot with: Nikon D300s
Lens & Focal length: Sigma 10 – 20 F4-5.6 @ 10mm with a Hoya HMC ND8 Neutral Density Filter
Shutter: 1 to 2.5 second
Aperture: F/9
ISO: 200
Laguna Beach lighting diagram by Li Cheng
When I got to Laguna Beach, I realized that I wasn’t going to get a shot of the sun setting into the ocean because the sun sets 90 degrees to the beach behind a peninsula. Luckily, there was a pretty interesting cloud pattern in the direction of the rocks. I used the Hoya HMC ND8 Neutral Density Filter because it allows me to use longer shutter speed to get that wispy water look.

The shots were taken right after the sun had set behind the peninsula to the right of camera.


I shot three photos bracketed at -2/3, 0.0 and +2/3 EV. Afterwards, I brought them into Lightroom and Photoshop as layers.

Post Processing
After I brought the photos into Photoshop, it was a matter of selectively masking in the water and sky. The way a layer mask works is that whatever you paint in white in the layer mask becomes visible. Whatever is in black stays hidden.

Photoshop 1
Photoshop 2
Photoshop 3

The final Photoshop image was a little too saturated for my taste but I had a brain freeze and forgot to use the Hue and Saturation adjustment layer.

Photoshop 5

Instead of redoing the top layer I decided to just de-saturate the final image a tiny bit with HSL in Lightroom. Hope you guys enjoy it!

Final Image
Laguna Beach by Li Cheng

Laguna Beach by Li Cheng

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Ed Rhodes

    gorgeous. love the BTS features

    | |
  2. Avkliss

    Wouldn’t this be considered Blending, as different from true HDR? In this article, you stack several layers and then bring out the desired results using masks, etc. as opposed to importing your series of shots in a HDR program to achieve the result you’re after. I started off blending, but with the advent of HDR software and its recent maturity for creating natural-looking compositions, I rarely – if ever, blend.

    | |
  3. Reji Berrouet

    Very cool. I always tell myself to do some HDR and I never get around to it…

    | |
  4. Terry Pham

    Thanks for sharing.

    | |