While editing landscape photos, there are several obligatory steps you should take. This includes color correction, cropping, exposure fixing, imperfections removal, and sharpness raising. Besides, many photographers recommend using Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions to make the whole process faster and maintain one color gamut across a series of pictures.
If you want to achieve professional results, you need to use only professional programs with a full range of features. The leaders among desktop image editing software are Photoshop and Lightroom. However, if you frequently snap shots with your phone and want to edit them on the go, you can make quick tweaks in Lightroom Mobile App, Photoshop Express, and Snapseed. Those looking for online tools, should pay attention to Pixlr and Fotor. No matter what program you’ll use, the landscape photo editing tips listed below will definitely come in handy.
1. Take a Photo, Considering Further Editing
Though this recommendation mainly touches upon the shooting process, it is still worth paying attention to. When photographing an object, you should think the composition over, so that you can improve a picture in a graphics editor later.
Landscape photos have a high dynamic range, so it is better to shoot in RAW. In this case, you will be able to restore maximum details in shadows and light during processing, which is crucial for any landscape image. The matrices of modern cameras are designed in such a way that it is much easier to restore graphic information from shadows than from overexposed areas.
That’s why it is better to photograph landscapes with a slower shutter speed, so that when editing a RAW file, you can effortlessly pull out the necessary details from the shadows.
2. Build the Right Composition by Cropping Your Landscape Shot
It is rather easy to adjust any photo with the help of the cropping feature, available even in the simplest graphic editors. First off, determine which area you want to focus on. Imagine which area of a picture will look more advantageous.
For convenience, you can overlay a 3×3 grid on the photo and see the key object, which is placed at one of the intersection points of the lines. Once you see where the main elements are located, crop your picture.
Pro Tip: When editing landscape photos, you can crop one image in several different ways and compare the results. Thus, you can analyze your mistake and will avoid them the next time you photograph nature. Anyway, cropping is an integral part of image editing and even seasoned photographers do it.
3. Harmonize Colors to Get Vibrant Photos
There are no strict rules in this case. The main thing is to get colors that look natural. Our eyes favor the colors located opposite each other in the color wheel. For example, yellow and blue. Therefore, photos where these two colors predominate, look bring and eye-pleasing.
You can also photograph objects of the following color to get a balanced composition:
- Red and Green
- Yellow and Purple
- Green and Purple
- Red and Blue
Pro Tip: To analyze colors and select harmonious combinations in Photoshop, you can use a special tool called Adobe Color. It checks the color contrast ratio and provides info on whether the colors you’ve chosen look great together.
4. Use Presets and/or Actions for Fast Photo Correction
Nature photography editing can become a breeze if you arm yourself with high-quality filters and plug-ins. Both beginner and professional photographers use Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions when they have to improve lots of images but are pressed for time. Besides, applying such filters, you can get photos with a similar color gamut.
The easiest way to add presets to the program is to drag and drop one or more files with presets directly into the Lightroom working window. After that, you can use them straight away. Right-click in the Presets window of the Develop module and select Import. Choose a preset file to add it.
To add actions to Photoshop, go to Window > Actions. Next, select the Load Actions option from the dropdown menu. In the navigation window that appears, select the folder with the desired action, and then click the Load button.
5. Adjust the Exposure to Get a Natural Tint
Novice photographers typically take images with manual ISO and in aperture mode. In this case, a camera is responsible for determining the exposure and shutter speed, based on the entered exposure compensation (learn the details here).
If you neglect sensitivity when photographing nature, you will end up either with an overexposed photo (too high ISO) or an underexposed shot (low ISO). However, the second case isn’t that problematic, supposed you shot in RAW, as you can fix the defect during image processing.
If you need to improve the exposure in a landscape photo that is initially too dark, your task is to lighten the frame step by step. If your image features the sky, you need to focus on it not to go overboard with illumination – a white or gray spot.
To fix exposure in Adobe Ps, choose Image- > Adjustments- > Exposure from the toolbar. You will see a window with 3 parameters – “Exposure”, “Shift”, and “Gamma Correction”. Drag the sliders to the left or right, thus making a photo darker or brighter.
If there are some serious issues you can’t handle on your own, don’t waste time and address professional photo retouching services. Skilled retouchers will listen to your needs and deliver enhanced pictures within 2-5 days.
6. Remove Distractions to Get Red of Needless Elements
No matter how hard you try to keep your composition distraction-free, you can’t control birds flying in the sky, people riding the bikes, etc. Fortunately, you can easily get rid of all needless elements using the Patch tool in Photoshop. You can also make the same tweaks in Lightroom with the help of the Spot Removal tool but it may fail to cope with complicated removal.
7. Raise Sharpness for Detailed Landscape Photos
Nature photography editing is much dependent on web standards. You have probably noticed that some photographers downsize images with Bicubic resampling, but the resulting photos are blurred and when you try to sharpen them, the overall quality degrades even more.
A good rule of thumb, in this case, is to downsize a photo so that it is 3 times smaller than the intended size. For instance, if you want a 1500px, start with going to 4500p. If you use Lightroom, you need to go to Filter and select Sharpen three times in a row.
At first, a photo will look terrible but the situation will change after you set the desired size of 1500px. If you think that the finished picture is too sharp, you can return to the second sharpening and perform downsizing at that point. In case an image isn’t as sharp as you want, sharpen a copy-layer and make it more transparent.
8. Turn Your Color Photo into B&W
If you want to highlight the beauty of the nature captured in a new way, you can try converting a color photo into a black-n-white picture. This approach works especially great if there is a wild animal in the scene, so you can focus viewers’ attention on its movements and grace, without tiring their eyes with numerous colors.
However, talking about such conversions, I don’t mean simple color desaturation. To get a genuine B&W gamut, you can use corresponding tools in photo editing programs or use Black and White Lightroom presets. Thus, you will get an arresting B&W photo that will tell a story and reveal deep emotions. Such images are currently very popular because of a special atmosphere.
9. Add Accents with Gradient
In order to draw attention to the foreground and make it even brighter, you can use a gradient with an exposure response. Lightroom is suitable for making such corrections.
To add volume and depth to your photos, you need to darken the middle part a little. You can do this with a brush, but it’s faster to just apply two exclusive intersecting gradients. One gradient should be dark and start from the upper right corner (it will darken the grass and sky) and the other one should be light. Thus, there will appear a darkening strip with soft borders. With the help of a brush, you can focus on the colors.
10. Make Local Edits to Improve Specific Areas
If you generally like your landscape photo and there are only some areas that require editing, you can use the Radial Filter in Lightroom for local corrections.
The Radial Filter is a great instrument that you can use while editing all types of images, paying special attention to some parts only. For example, you may like the background of your image, but want to fix just a single object in the foreground. That’s when this tool comes in handy.
Pro Tip: To activate the Radial Filter, hold down “Shift” and hit “M”. Next, click and drag the circle over the part of your shot that you want to edit. If needed, you can alter the shape and size of the filter with the help of small pins on the outside of the circle. Repositioning the Radial Filter is easy – just drag it to a new area in a picture.