I've checked all the dupes but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. I'm trying to understand how can the following look be achieved.

  1. Notice the smooth gradients in the sky. This one is definitely a long expo (not sure about rest of the settings) and an early morning (blue hour) shot.

enter image description here

  1. The effect I'm looking for is clearly visible in this. Notice the clothing and the sky. This was shot on Nikon D810, with Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX II 11-16mm F2.8, at 11mm/ƒ/8; 1/250s; ISO 320

enter image description here

  1. This last picture has that soft sky and clothing as well as sharpness which can be seen especially in the smoke.

enter image description here

From what I could infer this is definitely due to post processing, But I would like to know a direction which I should follow to achieve this look.

1 - https://500px.com/photo/183640257/beautiful-varanasi-by-manvir-singh
2 - https://500px.com/photo/183783141/colors-of-varanasi-by-manvir-singh
3 - https://500px.com/photo/183998479/in-service-of-almighty-by-manvir-singh

  • \$\begingroup\$ Other than strong colors, I don't see much in common between these photos. Also, from experience, 500px links are likely to vanish. Can you describe in text in more detail what you are looking for? "Soft/Velvety/Mellow" is a start, but kind of vague, and I'm not sure exactly what we are to notice in the clothing and sky (for example). \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 29, 2016 at 11:09

1 Answer 1


In order to achieve these kind of effects i use following techniques in lightroom (It's a post processing tool, if you aren't aware of it). These may not be the most efficient techniques but can replicate what you are expecting.

Image 1:- like you said it's a long exposure shot which gives smooth water and sky. Apart from that you can use gradient filter in develop module, reduce the highlights, decrease the temperature and move tint towards pink. You can try adjusting luminance under HSL. This will give you sky. For ground try increasing shadows, increase whites and decrease blacks (for black and white hold alt button while altering, stop it when it starts clipping)

Image 2 :- It's same as image1. Use gradient filter. drag it From top right corner towards left bottom corner. this time increase the temperature and lil less tint. Increase shadows, increase whites, decrease blacks, increase luminance (not too much) under noise reduction it smoothens the image. Play around with luminance under HSL.

Image 3 :- In the image focus is on the priest and has shallow dept-of-field. Increase shadows, not too much else it'll introduce a lot of noise. Increase whites, decrease blacks. Since only priest is our main subject in the image, we can sharpen it a bit. Instead of sharpening entire image we can just sharpen the priest. Under Sharpening option hold alt key + increase masking. Image will show white background with black lines. Black lines will show you which part of the image is going to be affected. Keep doing it until priest comes under mask. Now increase amount (again not too much) and if sharpening introduces noise it can be reduced by luminance which is present just below it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What makes you think that gradient filters were used in post processing in the first two? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 29, 2016 at 11:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm The answer does not state that the original photos use these techniques. It states that the techniques will produce similar resulting images. \$\endgroup\$
    – user50888
    Nov 29, 2016 at 17:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @benrudgers I'm not sure that they will, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 29, 2016 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm if you have better techniques please feel free to share. It'll help everyone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafal
    Nov 29, 2016 at 17:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ These look to me to be done in-camera with only global color adjustments, no painting gradients or selecting areas. Maybe a polarizing filter (the glass kind, not an effect). But as I noted in a comment above, I'm not really seeing a commonality to base an answer on. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 29, 2016 at 18:01

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