How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

Sunrise is my favorite time of the day for photography. While I don’t really enjoy getting up and out before dawn, it is well worth the sacrifice. Not only is the light ideal and the sky beautiful at sunrise, but in many cases you will be all by yourself, even in locations that are normally crowded.

In this tutorial I’ll walk through the process of editing a sample sunrise photo using our Landscape Legend Lightroom Presets. While Landscape Legend does include 100 different one-click presets that will give you instant effects for your photos, what really makes this set shine, in my opinion, are the workflow presets. Landscape Legend has an extensive collection of stackable workflow presets that give you endless possibilities that won’t restrict your creativity, while still allowing you to process photos much faster than you could without the help of the presets. For this tutorial I will be using Landscape Legend’s workflow presets and graduated filter presets to enhance the sky.

I’ll be working with a sample photo that was taken on the beach in Ocean City, NJ about 20 or 30 minutes before sunrise. The photo straight out of the camera looks like this.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

And this is what we will be creating (very quickly with the help of the presets) in the tutorial.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

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I’ve also recorded a video version of the tutorial if you prefer to follow along in video format.

The Landscape Legend workflow presets include several different sections of presets, and each preset will only impact the settings within its section. For example, if you experiment with the exposure adjustment presets you won’t impact the white balance setting that you already adjusted.

The first section of workflow presets is for black & white adjustments. I don’t want to convert this photo to black & white, so I am simply going to skip over that section and move on to the next section, which is for white balance. There are four different presets for white balance and I will try each one to see what works best.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

After trying the different white balance presets I like “shade” the best, so that is what I will use. After the white balance change the photo looks very slightly different.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

The next section is for exposure adjustments. At this point I am not going to apply any of the exposure adjustment presets. I may want to come back and adjust the exposure later after making the other changes, but for now I will leave it untouched.

The next section is for tone adjustments. I want to use one of the HDR tone presets so I will try each of them and see what looks best. I like the “bold HDR tones” preset the best.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

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After the bold HDR tones preset the photo looks like this.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

Next up is contrast adjustment. I want to give this photo a small contrast boost, so I’ll try a few different contrast boost presets, and in the end I wind up with the low boost.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

Next I will adjust the clarity with one of the clarity boost presets. Clarity gives the photo a sharper look, and after trying the different clarity presets I’ll stick with the moderate boost.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

After the clarity adjustment the photo looks like this.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

The next section of presets is for vibrance and saturation. This photo doesn’t include a lot of color, so I’m going to use one of the stronger boost presets here. After trying the different presets I decide on the preset called “unreal”.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

After applying the boost to vibrance and saturation the photo looks like this.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

The next two sections for tone curves and color adjustments are going to be skipped for this photo.

The next section of presets is for split toning. I want to add a warming effect so I will try both the light and strong warming filter presets. After trying both I think the stronger one works best.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

At this stage the photo looks like this.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

Next, I’ll use the light sharpening preset to apply a small amount of sharpening.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

I’ll skip the next two sections for noise reduction and grain because I don’t want to use any of those presets with this photo.

The following section is for Lens Corrections and I will apply both the “lens profile correction” and “remove chromatic aberration” presets.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

And the last step for the workflow presets, I will apply the minimal vignette.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

At this stage the photo looks like this.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

Now, let’s move on to the graduated filter presets that are a part of Landscape Legend to enhance the sky. There are several different presets for working with sunsets/sunrises, so I will try each and see what looks best. After trying them I decide on “Sunset Purple – Dramatic”.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

Then select the graduated filter tool (keyboard shortcut “M”) and select the center pin and move it to line up the graduated filter with the horizon.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

Next, I want to add another graduated filter to darken the sky a little, so I’ll click on “new” to create a new filter.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

Now click and drag down to add the new graduated filter to your photo and move the center pin to the horizon.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

Right now Lightroom is applying the purple sunset preset, so I’m going to change that by clicking on the arrow shown below.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

That will open up the list or presets and I will select the “-.5 stop grad filter” preset.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

Now we have the purple sunset graduated filter as well as the -.5 stop grad filter preset.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

After darkening the sky a little it looks too bold. So I’m going to select the pin for the purple sunset grad filter and reduce the contrast from 60 to 40.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

And that completes our work! Here is the finished photo.

How to Edit a Sunrise Landscape Photo in Lightroom

If you’d like to be able to speed up your workflow for editing landscape and nature photos please check out the Landscape Legend Lightroom Presets.

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