HDR Pics to play with: Big City Lights

Big City Lights - Pics to play with - Download the source files of this HDR image, test your post-processing skills and share your results in the comments below.

Big City Lights – Pics to play with – Download the source files of this HDR image, test your post-processing skills and share your results in the comments below.

This HDR Pics to play with archive is containing the source exposures of the HDR image ‘Big City Lights (HDR)‘. The ZIP archive for this ppw feature is 239 MB large. Make sure you read the information in Read This First.txt (included in the archive).

Download the archive

Image Information

  • Taken with a tripod
  • Three original exposures (0, -2, +2 EV) autobracketed
  • Camera: Nikon D7000
  • Lens: Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
  • Aperture: f/8
  • ISO 100

Below, you find the details for the photos in the archive. Each photo is provided as a 16-bit TIFF file.

Image file Exposure value Shutter speed Type
Big City Lights – ppw – 01.tif -2 EV 2s original
Big City Lights – ppw – 02.tif 0 EV 8s original
Big City Lights – ppw – 03.tif +2 EV 30s original
Big City Lights – ppw – 04.tif +4 EV 120s artificial
(created form +2 EV exposure)

Processing Information

The images have been pre-processed in the following way:

  • The original three RAW files where converted to TIFFs in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) with the default settings.
  • The CA (Chromatic Aberration) was removed in ACR (see details).
  • One additional exposure with +4EV was created in Abode Camera RAW to cover the widest possible dynamic range (see details).
  • The images where saved from ACR as 16-bit TIFFs, and they were watermarked in Photoshop.
  • No additional processing was applied.

Processing Tips

Use the source images as you feel appropriate. It is not strictly necessary to use all of them. Visit the photo page at to get information on my personal workflow for this image. It may serve as a starting point. Here are some tips:

Additional Resources

Check out the Dynamic Before-and-After comparison for this mage to see the effects of my post-processing work.

Sharing Your Results

Share the result of you post-processing work (your final image) online wherever you like. Make it publicly accessible. No login or membership of any sort should be required to view it. Then, post a comment below and include a link to your version. Feel free to explain what you did to the image.

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26 replies
  1. Tony
    Tony says:

    Hi Klaus,
    I had fund working on this set of shots. Thanks for making them available.
    I used Photomatix and decided to go with Fused instead of the Detail Enhancer.
    After bringing the shot into CS-5 I used an array of curves and levels along with Nik Color Efex Pro to bring out detail in the areas I wanted. At the end it was just a matter of Noise Ninja for the sky and some sharpening and here I am posting.
    Thanks again!!


  2. Eric B. Walker
    Eric B. Walker says:

    [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/premierehdr/8539552815/]Big City Lights (Not My Image)[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/premierehdr/]Eric B. Walker[/url], on Flickr

  3. Clarence
    Clarence says:

    Here’s my version of “Big City Lights”. I used only the three original shots (-2EV, 0EV, and +2EV) for this version. Lots of fun. Thanks Klaus.

  4. Ratul
    Ratul says:

    Here is mine :

    1. Reduced noise on the underexposed image using Lightroom Luminance only on sky and water
    2. Used Photomatix to create 32bit file using all 4 files
    3. Noise reduction in Photoshop using Topaz Denoise
    4. Topaz Adjust to bring some colors back on sky and buildings
    5. High Pass filter in Photoshop selectively on buildings and boats
    6. Adjust levels
    7. Hue/Saturation (Blue) for getting some extra saturation on sky
    8. Hue/Saturation (Yellow) for getting some extra saturation on boats and (red/magenta) for the tower, water and buildings
    9. Some spot removal and cloning to remove dsitarcting spots on water and remove the edge of the dock from the righ hand bottom corner
    10. Changed image size to 1024 pixels
    11. Save image for web devices.


  5. Mathias Csader
    Mathias Csader says:

    First of all: Thanks for this nice brackets Klaus! Was a lot of fun to play around with them.

    My goal was to try a new way of processing this very nice capture from you. I tried to mask them together to get a very natural and realistic result. Normally I use, as most of you, Photomatix to get my HDR. With this shot I thought I give it a try to do the blending manually. And here’s how I did it:

    1. Loaded all Images as Layers in Photoshop and used Luminance Masks (Channels) to mask them together
    2. Cleaned up the image
    3. Used Luminance Masks again. This time as Curves and get some Contrast and colors back into the image
    4. Get some details back with Surface Blur Filter and masked out the sky and water to avoid getting noise in it
    5. Used nik Softwares Polarization Filter from Color Effects 4 to get even mor color and details in the sky. Again masked out the area in the lower right front where it gets to dark.
    6. Get the reds out oft the buildings and boats with a Selective Color Layer
    7. Again used nik Softwares Color Efex 4 with the Brillance/Warmth Filter to get some more color especially in the sky/water and a little bit a cooler tint. On this layer I masked out the center of the image where it gets again a little bit to yellow/orange.



    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:


      I did not know that I had my Speedo on that day!

      Did you know that I actually did Triathlon for quite some time. I guess that’s exactly what I looked like. 🙂

      Your versions are always the most creative ones, Pat! Thanks!

  6. Garry Robinson
    Garry Robinson says:

    Here’s my first attempt at trying one of these. Thanks for making these great photos available to “play with”.

    I used the 4 images and processed tonemapped them using Photomatix, then enhanced a bit detail with Topaz Detail and used Topaz Adjust for colour and tone processing and to add more vibrancy to the sky.

    It can be seen on Flickr here:


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