Before and After: East Maui Sunrise

The edition of the Before and After series is an anniversary of sorts. It was exactly one year ago today that I took the before image that you see below, and it was during our overnight stay in the heavenly town of Hana along Maui’s east coast.

Being able to view the sunrise in Hana was a special moment for me personally, so now that I look back one year later and relive those moments, I wanted to make this image a little more special.

The Before Image

East Maui Sunrise

This image does a pretty fair job as-is for taking me back to that moment. There were a few things I wish I had done differently back then, and here’s a short list.

  • Scout out a location the day before – it was a pretty long day driving all the way to Hana, but I still could have taken 15 minutes to find a spot before we went to dinner that night.
  • Remember the tripod – left it in our cottage, and by the time I realized that I needed it (because of the low light), going back to get it would have meant missing the moment.
  • Shot bracketed exposures – I wasn’t shooting HDR at the time, and I’m not necessarily saying it was a strong HDR candidate. If I had bracketed shots – and that tripod – I could have used a few other multi-RAW techniques in post.

Okay, enough with what didn’t happen and onto the after image.

The After Image

East Maui Sunrise

Although I may still go back and try to recover some of that orange glow around the sun, this image is where I’m leaving it for now. Wanting to make this one special, I played around with a few tricks to get to this look.

  • First up was a little cropping. It ended up putting the sun closer to the middle than I prefer, but there was too many distractions in the foreground otherwise.
  • Next was multi-RAW processing in ACR using a gradient layer mask to blend separate exposure adjustments for the sky and the foreground.
  • To bring in more detail, I used two different tools from Topaz Labs. The first of which was Topaz Adjust by applying the Clarity preset and tweaking the Noise tab to clean up the clouds a little bit.
  • Topaz Detail was then used by applying the Feature Enhancement preset to add just a little more definition to the clouds and the surface of the water.


Let me know what you think or if you have any other suggestions of things I should try differently. I like the after image being a little brighter, but tried to avoid getting to bright so that it didn’t feel like dawn anymore.

– Kris

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