New College – Edinburgh, Scotland (HDR)

New College (HDR)

The story of this photo

I was on a business trip to Edinburgh last year when I had a couple of hours for taking photos. So I took a sprint through the town to see the most important sights. Edinburgh is not that huge so you can actually manage to see and photograph quite a big portion of it with only a couple of hours. Of course, carefully setting up shots is not possible when you are in a “sprint mode”. That’s also the reason why the traffic light sneaked into this shot. At first I was a bit disappointed with it. But as I worked on the photo, I started to kind of like the contrast between the old buildings and this modern artifact. What do you think?

As I processed the photo, it went into this painting-style direction almost by itself. So I decided not to resist it and pushed it a bit more into this direction. I hope, you like it. Enjoy!


The impressive old building on the left is Edinburgh’s New College. “New” is relative – it was opened in 1846 on The Mound – an artificial hill in central Edinburgh, which connects Edinburgh’s New Town and its Old Town. This hill was formed by the dumping of 1,501,000 cartloads of earth excavated from the draining of the Nor Loch. The Mound was officially opened in 1781. Some of Edinburgh’s most notable buildings and institutions have their premises on The Mound, including the National Gallery of Scotland, the Royal Scottish Academy, the spires of New College, the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland, and the elegant domed Headquarters of the Bank of Scotland. [adapted from Wikipedia]

How it was shot

How it was tonemapped

  • Photomatix version 3.1 (Detail Enhancer)
  • Saved as 16bit TIF

How it was post-processed

  • Post-processing was done in Photoshop
  • Perspective correction and cropping
  • Topaz Adjust on the foreground (everything except the sky) to enhance the details and the colors [details]
  • Topaz Adjust on the sky with more extreme settings to enhance the dramatic look
  • Saturation layer on the sky (master, reds and yellows)
  • Curves layer on the foreground to enhance the contrast and brightness
  • Topaz Denoise in the foreground and the sky with different settings [details]
  • Global curves and saturation layers for fine-tuning colors and contrast
  • Vignette effect added on a separate layer [details]
  • Sharpening using the high-pass filter [details]
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1 reply
  1. Captain photo
    Captain photo says:

    For me, over time my view on these little surprise distractions in my photos has changed. 30 years ago I was all about pristine landscapes with no signs of people in the shots. I even tried avoiding buildings if I could.

    Recently, within the past couple of years, I now actually embrace people and things, like your traffic light, into my shots and even find myself waiting for people to appear sometimes. I like my photography better now than ever before. People and things lend a sense of scale which is needed often. They also just give a sense of realness for me that makes my HDR images better.

    Maybe it’s the HDR look that makes people and things okay with me to inclued in photographs and, if I shot regular photos any longer, maybe they would still be not okay with me. So,bottom line, I don’t mind your traffic light at all. It real. It’s not the subject of the photo. It’s just there and is another interesting element for the eye to catch and ponder.



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