Articles, Blog

Landscape Photography Editing Complete Transofrmation Tarn Hows Photo

August 9, 2019

today we’re going to look at a complete
transformation of a landscape image that I shot recently in the Lake District you
can see the image in front of you now the problem with this image is that it
exceeded the dynamic range of my camera now I was shooting with a Fuji XT – and
whilst I had some neutral density graduated filters with me I find that if
I tried to use them it actually made the upper part of the image too dark in the
trees and I couldn’t reveal any detail so this is a typical image where using
the neutral density grads just doesn’t work my solution was to actually shoot
five images at different exposures so this is the first one which is the
unadjusted image we then have one that is two stops overexposed and you can see
this over in the exposure bias setting in Lightroom we then have one that’s one
stop overexposed followed by one that’s one step underexposed and one this then
two stops underexposed now if I can combine all five of these images
together I should get some things that will have a much nicer exposure though
rather than doing this in Photoshop with exposure blending I’m actually going to
do it fairly simply in Lightroom using the HDR option now if you haven’t used
Lightroom HDR before it doesn’t look garish like a lot of the HDR software it
actually produces quite a good blended image and that we can then use to work
on so all I need to do is select the first image in the sequence hold down my
shift key select the last image in the sequence and then I can right click and
I can photo merge to HDR now in the HDR software one thing that I need to do is
Auto align and the reason for this is that the five images I shot were
handheld I didn’t have a tripod with me so there’s going to be slight variations
in the image between each we now have the preview generated from
the images you’ll notice the D ghost amount which is the amount of movement
between the frames is actually set to high and that will try to remove any
movement in the branches as well as the alignment differences in the camera the
other setting you’ve got here is also an auto option and what that tries to do is
make this look like a perfect image and actually it’s produced quite a good
result from that so I’m going to actually merge with that setting the HDR
merge is now complete and this is the image that results from it as you can
see over on the right side all the adjustments have been made automatically
by the software trying to create a perfect exposure and to be honest it’s
done a pretty good job just using those settings so I’m going to keep those
there are though a few settings that I know need to change and the first one is
the camera profile now I’ve been shooting using the Fuji and my default
profile in there is Pro via standard and that’s been carried through into the RAW
files what I’m going to do instead is choose this Adobe landscape because I
quite like that and it seems to give me a larger dynamic range as you can see
it’s open the shadows a bit and pulled down the highlights the next thing I’m
noticing though I’ve made that change is that it looks like I’ve got some
chromatic aberration still around the trees and that tends to get highlighted
when you do this sort of HDR merging I’m going to just zoom in to 200% and you
can see I’ve got that red fringe around the brighter areas where the the dark
branches are cutting across it so what I’m going to do is just come down to the
lens correction section you can see I’ve already got removed chromatic aberration
on I’m just going to switch to the manual tab and it’s a purple fringe that
I’m seeing so I’m going to just add a couple of pixels of purple defringe and
that was removed the difference sorry the fringing problem from these tree
branches just go back to one to one and I’ll zoom out there there’s a couple
of things I do like about this image you can see know that the fog that was
rising on the mist that was rising off the lay has started to be accentuated
the problem though that I’ve got is that this area here is still a bit too light
I’d like to darken it just slightly and also the cameras done a pretty good job
of removing the warm light that was in the clouds and these turned the whole
image a little bit bluey green color so I’m going to correct that so let’s go up
note the temperature section and I’m just gonna warm it up very slightly and
that gives me more of what I was getting at the time so it’s still quite a a
bluish color to the image but I can see the warmth starting to creep in at the
moment what I’m trying to do is create an image that gives me a good starting
position to then enhance using other software to add special effects let’s
now turn our attention to removing the highlights of dealing with the
highlights that are getting very near to being overexposed so I’m going to do
this using the graduated filter and I’m just going to make a selection across
that area I can see that the the actual highlights in the reflection they’re
actually reasonably well exposed but they’re just a little bit too bright in
the actual clouds if I take this here you can see the red overlay which is the
areas that are being selected the first thing I’m going to do is remove the
selection from the trees than the treeline because if I start to adjust
and darken the sky I’ll have exactly the same problem I had with the neutral
density filter which is I’ll darken those trees as well and I don’t want to
do that I’m going to switch to now my brush that’s within my mask and I’m
going to select the arrays brush now notice I’ve got the auto mask on and
I’ve got my flow to 100% and no need to create a much larger brush so I’m just
going to enlarge this and that should do and now I’m just
gonna click on the dark trunks and as you can see that’s doing a pretty good
job of taking away the selection from the dark areas but it still leaves the
selection on the light areas so that’s actually quite a good adjustment now
before I do anything else let’s just see what would happen if we adjust that and
what I want to do is I want to pull the highlights down and that’s not too bad
but I’m gonna also just reduce the contrast a little bit in the sky and
reduce the exposure very slightly and that actually looks like a reasonable
job I don’t have to do anything else what I might just try to do is go to a
luminance range selection and I’m gonna tell the software not to make a
selection in any of the mid-tones so really I’m looking here at the
highlights and the whites in terms of the tones in Lightroom and that looks
pretty good let’s just turn it off a second so that’s it off that’s it on and
it actually balances out with the reflection of the lake really well so
I’m happy with that couple more adjustments I want to really
just darken those highlights a little bit further in a tone curve but I also
want to lighten the the shadows very slightly and what that’s doing is its
allowing you to see the mist a little bit more clearly here and it’s also
opened up the shadows here so you can see into the trees a little bit better
what I need to do is now check the areas there are at 100% and the actually still
look very good now go into 200% you can see there’s a lot of detail in there and
there isn’t much noise at all the reason for that is because I’ve created this
HDR merged image if I hadn’t created the HDR image you’d be seeing a lot of noise
where we’d open the shadows so that’s really it’s about the quality of the
resulting image now overall I like that as a general well
supposed image that’s been corrected ready for the next stage of editing so
I’m gonna now take this image and I’m going to edit it in Photoshop now the
reason that I’m choosing to work in Photoshop is that I’ll be able to use
layers and masks and combine the power of other tools as well so the intention
is I’m going to make some adjustments using some of the Nik collection and
then I’m also going to do adjustments using on one photo raw now I’m going to
start by trying to enhance some of this mist that’s in the foreground on the
lake here and to do that I’m going to actually use color effects Pro so I just
select color effects Pro and I’ve got this dynamic Pro contrast helper at the
moment which I do like the adjustment but that gives me an I’m going to use
that again in a minute but first I want to actually and edit this and add some
fog in using the fog filter now as you can see the fog filter is very strong
and it adds an effect across the entire image I only want to affect this part of
the image here so to start with I’m going to add a couple of control points
to actually create the fog effect and I’ll just sighs those and now I’m going
to hold down my option key or Alt key if you’re using a PC and I’m just going to
click and drag to duplicate that effect further now at the moment it’s still not
looking very natural so what I need to do now is use a negative control point
to remove some of the adjustments from further up in the image and that just
takes the fog off the top of the trees and the other place I want to remove it
from it’s just this foreground here where the the headland is sticking out
into the image that gives it a feeling more around as if this is in the
foreground and then the fogs behind it now I’m not quite happy with the
adjustment here it seems to be too taking too much out of the trees there
I’m just going to I can play around with the opacity of this spot so by default
and negative control points down at zero but you can gradually increase the
opacity if you want to now that’s created quite a nice fog effect probably
a little too strong so we can actually change the fog method and there’s
another fog that looks a slightly better actually and I do like that one and that
one’s just a little bit too strong so I’ll go for three and I can no reduce
the intensity of that very slightly so there’s the original and there’s the
adjusted effect and I think I’ve just got a bit of fog coming into the tree
branches there so I’m just going to duplicate that control point and remove
those and that looks to be quite a nice effect now so I’m just gonna go back to
my pro contrast filter and now I’m going to add some dynamic contrast and that
just opens up the shadow areas a little bit more in the foreground so if I turn
that off you’ll see what I mean so that’s it without that’s it with it
added in and it doesn’t seem to affect with this area over here so that’s
actually quite a nice effect so I’m going to no click OK and get that back
into Photoshop now as you can see the color effects
that I’ve just used is created on a new layer and I’ve got my system set up to
do that automatically so there was my original there’s my new layer and no
need to enhance this to make it look a little bit more realistic what I want to
do is make some of the trees are the tops of the trees pop out of the fog a
little bit more so to do that I’m now going to add a layer mask and I’ve got
my brush tool selected I’m painting with black and I’ve got it set to about 14 15
percent I’m now going to size my brush to be quite small but I’m just going to
take the top of the fog off these trees so all I’m doing here is I’m painting on
the layer mask is attached to this layer with black and that’s hiding the effect
from these trees and that makes it look like the tops of the trees are actually
showing through the fog a little bit more and again I’m going to do that down
there as you can see as I’m painting they’re becoming just a little bit
darker I’m also going to highlight or emphasize this tree over on the edge a
little bit more so it doesn’t all look like it’s got the fog over it it looks
like you’ve come through the fog and that tends to give this feeling of more
depth into the image now I’m also just going to come down into the trees here
and there with the with the shelter so here you can see there a lot of filters
covering it and just now getting the trees to stick through that a little bit
more so that doesn’t look too bad and it looks a little bit more like a nice mist
effect then maybe I’ve done that a little bit too strongly there so I’m
going to switch to white now and I’m just gonna paint back on my mask to hide
some of the black masking effects that I created and that actually
looks quite good now so turn it off turn it back on I’m happy with that we can
now move on to look at the next effect that we want to add and I’m just going
to duplicate my layer by holding down shift alt ctrl + E on a PC or on a Mac
is shift option and command and that creates a stump layer
now the stunt layer is the sum of all the layers below it and it’s just a
straightforward pixel there so if I turn off the layer below it you can see the
image hasn’t changed but we’ve now got this stump layer which is a duplicate
layer and I’m just going to rename that to be on one because the next set of
adjustments I want to create are in on one photo raw so let’s go to the filter
menu I’m going to pick on one and I’m going to go into the effects 2019
software the reason I’ve decided to use on one here rather than using the Nik
collection it’s not I want to enhance the clouds and the color in the clothes
because when I was at this lake the clouds seemed to have quite a nice
orangey color to them and as I said before the cam has done a good job of
neutralizing that if I try to recreate that in the Nik collection the ways I
use tend to look a little bit synthetic so I’ve come into one one where I’m
going to use the photo filter to make a selection of the brightest areas in the
sky and then to color these afterwards I’ll go back into Nik and then I’ll
enhance it further and I find that that has a more natural effect on the image
than trying to do all the enhancements in just Nik collection so the first
thing I’m going to do is pick one of these presets that we’re having the
collection now I don’t like some of these because they’re just a little bit
too harsh but the magic desert one tends to be quite nice now that’s already
created a lovely effect on the image the thing I’m not sure about at the moment
is this vignette that’s helping darken the sky but I’ll leave it
in place for the moment I may reduce it later because there’s another vignette
that can be used in the the Nik collection in color effects Pro that’s
actually really good for this sort of thing I think I’m probably going to turn
the vignette off and I’m going to add a new photo filter then the photo filters
are just like putting a colored filter in front of your camera lens and the
first one I want to create with though is this n85 filter and that’s got quite
a deep orange color to it the problem is it’s affecting a lot of areas that I
don’t want it to affect I want it to affect just the highlights
so let’s first off just strengthen that so you can see where it is very easily
I’m now going to click on this little gear cog icon here and that allows me to
select that I want to apply this to the highlights and you can immediately see
what it recognizes of being a highlight and what is now applying the filter too
and you can control that using this range slider here so I’m going to
increase the range slightly because I want it to pick up some of the mist here
and add a golden effect of that and I’m I’m ok with that that’s looking quite
good I’m going to turn that off and now I’m going to go to a mask and I’m going
to create a luminosity mask and what that’s doing is its hiding the effect
from the darkest areas but it’s applying it to the lighter areas so you can see
that the sky the light areas in the sky being affected but the shadowy areas
here and not being affected and we can control that further so I’m just going
to darken down the mask if you want to see the mask you can click this view
option here and that’ll show you what at what I’m seeing I’m also going to
feather it very slightly and that allows me to select these areas
in white so that’s where the filter should be applied to and you can see
that’s know what’s happening now it is at the moment very strong so I’m just
going to reduce the strength of that and the reason I want to do this is because
I want to add another filter that’s slightly different color so this creates
my first background layer of color in the sky and now I’ll create this next
photo filter but this time I’m going to use the 81a which is a different color
of orange it’s a little bit more brighter and what I’m going to do here
is rather than using a mask I’m going to paint it on manually so the first thing
I’ll do is I’ll invert that rather than creating this whole luminosity mask and
I’ve got the option here to paint in and I’m also going to select this perfect
brush know what the perfect brush does is it tries to select areas that are
very similar to what you’re painting on it should try to avoid some of the
darker trees so the first thing I’ll do is I’ll just make an initial large
selection I’ve got my feather set to quite large I’ve got an opacity just to
14% and that allows me to make multiple strokes with the brush and as I’m painting that’s graduate
coloring up the sky area using my adjustment just be very careful and
painting the background there and I’m also just going to increase the amount
of this so you can see it’s a little bit more clearly where I’m painting and I’ll
paint as well I mustn’t forget the highlights that are in the in the
reflection and that’s making a reasonable job now
I’ve actually emphasizing some of the color in the clouds that I saw at the
time when I was shooting this now again what I’m going to do is I’m just going
to feather that very slightly to help blend it with the rest of the image I
can see here that this area needs to be a little bit more selected and actually
I’ll take off the perfect brush for that because what I want to do is just make a
nice general selection and now you can control the effect and when it’s being
applied to using this feather adjustment I’m also going to reduce the density now
if I look at the mask I’ll show you and you can see what’s being selected what
hasn’t if I reduce the density you’ll notice that the areas that are black are
start getting slightly lighter and that should allow the effect to show through
slightly in other areas and that looks quite good so I’m happy with those
adjustments let’s just turn on that vignette now and that’s looking quite
good the other thing I might just do is change the color temperature of the
color enhancement further down and I might also just boost the clarity
overall of the image and that’s sure allowing these areas to show through
much more detail than the other areas if the shadows are closing up a little bit
too much you can lighten them and that’s looking no I quite a natural enhancement
if I turn the preview off that’s the original
then that’s the enhanced image so I’m going to actually go with that and will
now apply that to the layer in Photoshop now that I’m back in Photoshop you can
see that I’ve got my on one layer with the adjustments applied if I turn that
off you can see the image before we applied those adjustments it’s a little
bit wrong at the moment for my taste so what
I’m going to do is I’m actually just going to reduce the opacity of the layer
down to around 75% and that allows this to look a little bit more natural and
blending on one adjustments in with the image layers below it I’m now at a point
where I want to enhance the sky a little bit further and add some more color and
saturation into the image and I’m going to do that using the visor I’m normally
going to work to start with selectively using control points and I’m going to
add a control point first to select the sky now as I’m adjusting this I’m
holding down my command key and this shows me the mask that’s being created
so you can see here the adjustment on the sky is actually being selected I can
now apply my warming filter and that adds in a little bit more color into
those areas I don’t want to make it too strong but I will now increase the
saturation as well and also the contrast now the ones looking a little bit too
strong there so I’ll just told me it down a little bit I’m also going to
duplicate this adjustment and I’m going to apply a duplicate of it don’t onto
the reflection to make sure that that’s also got quite a nice color boost the
next adjustment is going to be to the tree area again I’m holding down my
command key and that’s showing me the area that’s being selected I’m happy
with that so what I’m going to do is just warm it
with very slightly so it looks like some of the warm lights now falling on the
mist on the lake I’m also going to brighten that area very slightly to draw
your eye into it and just emphasize the feeling of mist as well now overall
that’s looking quite a bit better so I’ll just turn the preview off turn it
back on that’s how did the color in and they’re going to boost the overall image
saturation very slightly I’m going to just mean use the shadow
adjustments to darken the shadow areas here on the image and that makes them
pay more silhouetted no against thee against the light sky overall I’m happy
with that but I might apply just a little bit more warmth to the image
globally and that’s looking not too bad these areas are still perhaps a little
bit too too warm now for my liking and I’ll just reduced only saturation
very slightly I’m just try reading the contrast as
well sorry the brightness and that doesn’t really have the effect I want I
will actually reduce the contrast very slightly in those areas so overall if I
turn that off and turn it back on that’s looking a lot better I’ll note click OK
and I’m going back to photoshop now again when you get into Photoshop and
you suddenly see it against the original it’s it’s no looking like I may have
push that a little bit too far so again I’ll just reduce my opacity I’m actually
going to mask out some of the areas of the sky as well because I think they’re
just applied a little bit too strongly I’ll just resize my brush and I’m
painting now again with a black a black brush onto these areas just to tone down
the adjustment very slightly on that the sky and also very slightly on the on the
reflection here and I quite like the look of that the final thing that I want
to do now is I’m going to actually apply a vignette again to this image in color
effects Pro now a couple of things I can do with
color effects Pro I can correct the color cast here if I want to just to try
to tone it down a little bit more and it does look a little bit better with a
small amount of color correction applied using the pro contrast filter the other
adjustment I want to apply though is to create a vignette and I’m actually going
to do it using this darken and lighten Center and I’m first going to select a
oval shape to the image and I can now lighten the center of the image further
as well as then separately adjust the border luminosity and I can place my
center of my image using this place center option to make sure that I get
the look I want and actually I’m quite happy with that
and that’s created the image now as I want it so let’s click OK and overall I
think that we’ll just move that I think that looks like a much nicer image so
now let’s just put all the adjustments we’ve applied together into one folder
and I’ll just call that adjustments and now we can turn it off to look at the
original in comparison that was the image that came out of Lightroom so it
wasn’t even the original exposure that we had and following the adjustments
that’s the effect that we’ve got so we can now see the color in the sky that’s
the most obvious we’ve got good detail in the tree in the shadow areas and
we’ve got this lovely mist that was appearing on the lake overall that looks
like quite a substantial transformation an improvement on the image and that’s
actually much nearer to how I imagined I was seeing the scene when I took the
picture back on the day I hope you found that useful I’m Robin Whalley you’ve
been watching Lenscraft I’ll see you next time for another video


  • Reply Douglas Ritchie January 31, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Excellent transformation Robin, I have liked the Adobe hdr blending since it came out, much more natural and leaving you with in effect a PSD raw image to work with.

  • Reply David Roby January 31, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Masterful! I love the subtlety of your adjustments.

  • Reply Jorge January 31, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    Nice demonstration on how to combine different tools to achieve the desired creative effect. Quite impressive Robin. Thank you. Jorge

  • Reply Steve O'Nions February 1, 2019 at 7:22 am

    An amazing transformation Robin, I was impressed with the ON 1 software and the application of the coloured filter.

  • Reply Gordon Macgregor February 1, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Thank you for a very interesting and informative video on editing Robin and good to see a full workflow. Your video series on Nik and Vivenza have been encouraging and I intend to try them. However, I purchased Raya Pro with the intention of using it for similar adjustments and I notice that you also have this plugin but do not appear to use it. Do you find the other software combinations preferable?

  • Reply Michael Nylif February 2, 2019 at 1:49 am

    Awsome Video!

  • Reply Gerd Greczka February 2, 2019 at 4:09 am

    Well explained. Helpful. Thank you.

  • Reply Chris Wooldridge February 2, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Excellent workflow tutorial and very helpful in highlighting how to use different tools together. I don’t use ON1 myself but I dare say you could still get similar continuing on with Nik & Photoshop.
    I really appreciate the quality of your end to end workflow tutorials, keep up the good work.

  • Reply S. Grabinska February 2, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    nice 🙂

  • Reply eugene benjamin February 3, 2019 at 4:28 am

    As always, great information, Robin. Thank you!

  • Reply R Garlin February 4, 2019 at 5:59 am

    Another entertaining and educating follow-along. That was quite a journey from LR to PS to On1 and Nik… but I agree with you that the end result is wonderful! Thanks for these insights, RW!

  • Reply The Happy Hour Hound February 12, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Just curious what photo editing software you would recommend that is open source free or inexpensive for some young photographers around 17yrs old and on a budget?

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