How To Edit Landscape Photos | Trees In The Mist And Snow

How to Edit Landscape Photographs

How To Improve Your Landscape Photographs

This is part 1 of a series of editing blogs showing you how to improve your landscape photographs. I show my process and how I take the RAW image and turn it into the end result.

Accessing the image

Before I do anything to the photograph the first thing that I do is work out what I like, don’t like and what I should have done better. This first step helps to work out which direction I’m going to go in next plus I can try to avoid making the same mistakes twice.

My initial look at this image says that I underexposed the photograph on the day so now the image looks too grey. After looking back at the footage in the behind the scene video that’s pretty realistic, but I think it would be a better image if it was slightly lighter. Increasing the exposure would also bring out more details in the foreground creating a more pleasing scene.

Swipe left to right to see the before and after image

See how this photograph was taken

Editing the photo

I use an editing software called Adobe Lightroom. It’s what I’ve used from when I first started and it’s easy to use.

To make sure the colours are correct for prints. I calibrate my monitor using a screen calibrator

Adding Contrast

I shoot in raw format so the images tend to come out of the camera looking a bit flat. This can be a good thing but in this case I don’t think it is. To make the edges more defined and the blacks, more black I have added more contrast. The number is a bit irrelevant as you each photograph is different but in this case, the contrast is set to 29.

This is higher than I would usually go as it can make images look fake, but in this case I think it helps.

Making the trees stand out even more.

The trees in the background don’t stand out as much as I was hoping they would do. On the day the mist rolled in more as I was photographing adding even more grey on top of the clouds but the dark lines of the wood still stood out.

To bring this more to life what I have done is lower the highlights until the tips of the trees become more defined. Before doing this they blended more into the clouds. The downside to doing this is it makes the scene even more grey. to balance this out I take the white slider and increase until I get the desired effect. In this case, highlights were set to “-86” and whites were set to “+22”.

Adding some depth to the image.

Shadows and dark areas are what add depth to the scene. I dislike most HDR images as they tend to be shadowless and unrealistic, so we want to avoid anything like that.

To add some depth to the area in the foreground and the main tree in the middle of the scene, I drag down the shadows a little bit. If you go too far you will lose all the details, but just before then you can add some subtle touches make the scenes more realistic. I do the same thing with the black slider until everything looks balanced. In this case, shadows were set to “-27” and blacks were set to “-30”.

Adding Clarity.

To add the final touches and make the edges more defined and make the details pop I add a bit of clarity. This is another once of those edits that can ruin your photos and make them look fake so use this sparingly. Add the clarity until you get the desired result.

Using an ND Grad Filter

I still thought some of the image was a bit dark so to balance it out I used the ND Grad Filter on Lightroom. Press “M” or click on the tab. For this I spread the filter out quite wide to get a more diffused effect so there was no hard dividing line and upped the exposure on the grass in the foreground to finish of the scene.

ND Grad Filter

Finished

After doing this I was happy with the result, and it ended up like the photo I had in my head whilst taking the photograph. NExt time what I would do different is use an ND Grad filter on the day and get this right in camera rather than in the editing software. Will people know the difference? Probably not, but it feels better to get it right in camera when possible.

What do you want to see edited next? Let me know in the comments and subscribe to my Newsletter and YouTube channel to get the latest trips and Lake District photographs

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