Improving the white balance

Last weekend I was at the London Eye and took the following photograph. It features an interseting view at the Shard but it looks quite boring. So I decided to use my favourite image manipulation program, the gimp, to enhance the picture.

A cool perspective but boring colors.

At first, I improved the white balance. There is a lot of haze in this picture and a bit of contrast will serve well. So I chose Colors > Auto > White Balance. The result is below. It looks much crispier! Move your mouse over the image below to explore the differences!

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Replace the sky

Since the blue sky of the original image is a little plain, I searched the internet for a better sky. Eventually I found this image. It’s very beautiful and I really would like to credit its original author but I failed to find his or her name.

I deleted the sky from the original image with the eraser tool and pasted the new sky to a new layer below the original image.

The old sky was boring.
The new sky is much more awesome.
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Color grading of the foreground

The picture looks quite interesting, but we need to adjust the colors of the skyline. Therefore I duplicated the skyline layer and tinted the copy to some warm orange with Colors > Colorize.... Then I deleted most of the tinted version; only on the right hand side where the sun is supposed to be I kept the orange version.

The tinted skyline layer.
Most of the tinted skyline layer has been erased.
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The sun glare

Finally I used some additional sunrise images to add a sun glare to the image. I used this CC by SA image by Zimmermanns and this public domain image. I put both on separate layers, moved them around, blurred, mirrored and erased some parts. Both blend modes were set to Soft Light.

A subtle glare.
Some glare over the skyline.
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Final comparison

That’s it! You can download the full resolution result here. Below you can check the differences between the original photo and the final version. Please post a link in the comments if you created some cool images with a similar technique!

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