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A Basic Process for Editing Landscape Photos

Lesson 2 from: Landscape Photo Editing with Adobe Lightroom Classic

Philip Ebiner

A Basic Process for Editing Landscape Photos

Lesson 2 from: Landscape Photo Editing with Adobe Lightroom Classic

Philip Ebiner

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Lesson Info

2. A Basic Process for Editing Landscape Photos

Next Lesson: Golden Hour Lake

Lesson Info

A Basic Process for Editing Landscape Photos

Welcome to this first editing lesson in the lightroom. Landscape editing course in this lesson, I wanna break down my step by step process that I use for most of my landscape edits in this one. I want to keep it as simple as possible and show you how you can take a decent photo which you see on the left and make it a little bit more memorable. Make it pop a little bit more. Now, I do wanna preface this as photography is very unique to whoever the photographer or the viewer is. I've edited and shot a lot of photos that people love. I've edited photos that people hate. I don't think there is necessarily a right or wrong way to edit a photo in general. I think it's ok for people to get as creative as they want. Some photographers believe that you should get the closest thing to final photo while shooting it. Others believe that editing a photo is fine. Some say you shouldn't make creative adjustments to make it look more artistic. Others say that playing with color and playing with differ...

ent brushes and things like that in lightroom is good. I'm here to show you different tools that you can use in different ways to edit photos. But in general, I think that whatever you want to do to a photo, if you like that photo at the end of the day, that's all that matters. All right. So back to actually editing this photo. So as always these photos are going to be available for you to uh edit yourself in the downloads from earlier in this course. So this one right here we are editing is city on a hill and some of these photos I shot many of them I downloaded from we saturate.com, which is a great website for finding free photos that you can also distribute and edit your own if you'd like. And it's great for practicing photos. So step number one, in terms of editing a photo or editing a landscape photo is starting out with a great photo. This means not only should the subject of the photo be good, the exposure should be relatively good, but also you should be working with the raw photo itself, editing JPEG or compressed photos will not allow you to have the room to edit things like exposure or color like you can with a raw photo. So definitely start with the raw photo whenever possible. Here, we also have a great shot. Looks like it was shot with a wide angle lens. I'm not exactly sure what camera it potentially could have even been a gopro although the dynamic range is pretty good. So I'm guessing this was with a Ds LR camera and one of the cool things we can do in lightroom is see under our metadata, what this was shot with, it looks like it was shot with the Nikon D 7100. Perfect. So if you have the raw image often you will have the metadata here in the library tab and under meta data, we see there we can even see what lens was shot with the 10.0 10 millimeter F 2.8. Awesome, so great, great photo starting out with. So we're happy here. Step number two is create your aspect ratio or your crop or your framing. I often will crop my photos before I do anything else doing that allows me to focus on what's within my final frame that I want rather than focusing on things that might end up being cropped out. Now you can make crops later on. You can see what happens if you uh revert the crop later on just to see if you like it. But in general, I'm going to crop. So in lightroom, you click this little crop button right here is the square or rectangle with the dashes. If you've edited in in lightroom, I know you probably know that already but bear with me for beginners watching this course. So you can choose any preset aspect ratios down here. I've created a couple customer aspect ratios. Often I will crop to a 16 by nine ratio in my photos, especially for landscape because I think that lends itself to a nice wider sort of aspect and that's good for landscape. Or sometimes I'll just create a custom by unlocking the gear there, the lock there and then just cropping in or out. I actually like how wide this image is. I like that this church or whatever this building is ends up on sort of the rule of thirds intersection line one way to see a better example or see more clearly what this would be look like is just to finish your crop. So I'm just gonna press return on my keyboard and see what it looks like. And that's looking pretty good. I do like getting rid of some of this on the bottom. I'm gonna put that horizon right in the middle. Some people like putting it down on one of the third lines or at the top here. I feel like it's a little bit too heavy down below. I want my eye to be drawn to this church, this water basically the horizon and right now there's too much below. So I'm gonna move it up just a bit. I think something like that is pretty good. I could go a little bit more extreme, but then some of these buildings down here, it's a little bit too much negative space. Now, that might be sort of a style you're going for, you might want a ton of negative space, something like that, just crop out all those buildings down below and potentially something to play around with later and see. But for now just to start, I'm gonna go with a crop like this pretty wide panoramic, something like that. So that's my first or second step. Actually, first step was start with a great photo. Second step is crop and create your photos frame. The third step for me is exposure playing around with exposures. These are still in your basic sliders up here. You can do a lot with just exposure. I usually skip my overall exposure and jump right down to the individual sliders for highlights, shadows, whites and blacks unless it's completely overexposed or underexposed. That's when I'll use this exposure slider. But because this is a generally well balanced exposure, which we can see up here in the histogram, we've got exposures all across this whole graph from blacks to whites. That's generally what you want you want to see have pure blacks have pure whites if those are in your frame. But there are some things. And if I jump down to the highlights, you can automatically see if I start to bring down my highlights that it starts to bring down the exposure of the sky. And I get a lot more detail there which I like to see. And if you were here sitting on this, this hillside and you bring, if you're looking out there, you'll probably see more detail in the sky similar to this rather than like this. It's just the fact that cameras still can't really see as good as human eyes can in terms of contrast and dynamic range. And so bringing this down actually makes it look a little bit more natural with shadows. Again, you might be sitting up here and it might be a little bit more higher of an exposure down here in these shadows in this area down here. So I'm gonna bring those up. Now, this is a preference that you have to make yourself. Do you want it to be super contrasty or not contrasty? What I basically did with the highlights and shadows was made it less contrasty by bringing down the sh highlights down the shadow or bring up the shadows. You could even see up in the histogram that the graph moves towards the center when I do those things rather than moving further to the sides. And that makes it a more flatter, less contrasty shot. If I want to bring back some of that contrast, I might bring down the blacks again, which only brings down the darkest of the darks. And we still have the boosted exposure in many of the shadows that I made and then same for the whites. I might bring up see what that looks like or bring back down with either of these sliders. If you go too far. It starts to look a little unnatural. Say I bring the whites all the way down or the blacks all the way up. You see, it starts to look too flat, it just doesn't look natural. Now, as I mentioned before, I believe any sort of edit as long as you like it, that's completely fine. Personally, though I do like my photos to still remain somewhat natural. Later in this course, I am going to edit some photos a little bit more artistic, a little bit more experimental. But for my standard landscape edit, I do like it to be a little na more natural. So this I think looks pretty good. Now, a keyboard shortcut that I want you to re remember is the back slash button. It should be somewhere above the return key on your keyboard because this shows the before and after already, you can see that it looks to me at least better. Now remember you might not like it, but to me this looks better. You can also compare and contrast before and after with this button down here that you click looks like a why, why? And you can shuffle through these by clicking on it and see the before and after now notice. So this shows the before and after with the same crop, it doesn't show the original crop. If you want that. You click this button down here, which has a reference photo. So I can actually use a reference photo, which what I'm gonna do is right, click and create a virtual copy of what I'm working on and then reset this one. So that's now my original photo. I'm gonna drag this as my reference photo and then I'm going to click back to this photo that I was editing. I hope that makes sense. Just rewind 30 seconds if it didn't. And now we see the original photo versus the edited one with the crop differences to really see what we're doing differently. All right. So now I'm gonna click this button back here to get back to my main edits. So that was step three, exposure. Step four is color. And for this step four, I mean, the overall color of my entire photo to me, this includes things like temperature, perhaps tint vibrance and saturation. These things can really help with a landscape escape photo change its style, change its feeling and make it a little bit more poppy. First with temperature. Sometimes this can be a more artistic decision. Do we want it to be warmer? Do we want it to be cooler? Do we want to combine these, make it cooler and add a little magenta tint that's giving it a style. This is not very natural, this is probably not what it looked like but does it look good to you? Maybe let's add a little green, make it warm again, giving it a different style for any of these sliders, if you double click the slider or this little notch where you are setting your slider, it will return it to the original setting. So for this photo, I'm going to actually boost the warmth overall just a little bit. Now I'm gonna give you a sneak peek. One of the later steps is to make local adjustments or adjustments just to one area of the photo. And that's one way that I can really make a photo stand out and I might play with color and exposure there as well. But for that specific area of the photo such as the sky for now, though, just for my overall adjustments, I'm just gonna make that slight warming with the temperature slider and then down below, let's go down to vibrance and saturation. I'm just gonna boost my saturation just a little bit. This is one of those effects that if you go too far, it starts to look unnatural and almost a little amateurish. So again, it's up to you, you could crank up the slide saturation to 100. If you want, it starts to actually look distorted to me, which I think is a very bad thing. Now, saturation and vibrance if you've edited in lightroom or taken another lightroom course from me, you know that saturation will make all the colors more vibrant. Vibrance is a more intelligent way to do this more important for skin tones because it boosts the vibrance of co colors more like the greens, the blues, but it doesn't boost the oranges and reds and yellows as much. You can see I can crank this all the way up to 100 but the yellows that were very distorted when I crank the saturation up don't get boosted as much. And I like that because for this photo because I want to boost those individual colors more. There's another way to do this in light room. If you wanna slide down to the HSL panel under saturation here, you can pick individual colors to boost the saturation for or you can even pick this little eye dropper and you click there and then you click in your photo to a color you want to boost or make less saturated and then you just click and drag up. So I can go around, I can say, oh the purple in the sky, that's pretty nice. The color of this ocean. See what color that is boost that maybe I do wanna make the oranges a little bit more saturated, maybe not. So you can play around with this too. And so making those little adjustments can help. Um but there's lots of ways and that's the thing you'll learn in this class. And through playing around with lightroom, there's lots of ways to do the same thing. So boosting the overall saturation or boosting just a specific color, you can do that with the HSL panel. The next main step is clarity, de haze and sharpening. You'll see the clarity and the haze sharp sliders here. These are overall sliders that will affect the entire image down below. If you look for the detail panel, this is the sharpening panel lightroom will automatically sharpen your raw images because raw images come with just they're a little soft because you have all that data there. And that's just how your camera processes or I guess doesn't process the photo when it captures that image. It generally needs a little sharpening. You can see though this image, even if zoomed in which you can do just by clicking on your image or pressing the Z key, it's sharp, it's as sharp as can be. Now, some of the things in the distance are a little bit softer, but that's just because whatever lens it was using, it focused more on these buildings in the foreground and whatever the aperture was, it didn't ha it wasn't able to get everything in the background as crispy as you may want or maybe you do want your foreground to be sharp and your background to be blurry. That's the photographer's decision. You can increase the sharpening over here. And as I do that, if I go too far, you start to see that it starts to look a little bit distorted, it adds a lot of grain into that image. Now, if I have this all the way to the left, you can see that it doesn't ha it's a little, the edges are a little soft. So leaving this at the natural sort of 40 amount that lightroom adds to all raw photos is good for me for most photos. Now, noise reduction is another thing entirely that is not a major step, but I'll just mention it because it has to do with sharpening if you zoom in here and you have a lot of noise. Let me just crank up the sharpening just for an example. But then you say, OK, there's a lot of noise. I want to get rid of that. You can increase this noise reduction slider and it gets rid of that noise and it starts to blur things a little bit. And so if you go too crazy, it starts to look like it's like a watercolor painting. So these two sliders are things you have to balance. This photo itself, doesn't have too much grain. I don't mind the grain, especially with the standard amount of sharpening. And again, the sharpening itself is not a way to make an out of focus photo info. It's more a way just to crisp up those edges a little bit. Now I'm gonna slide back up because I mentioned in this step clarity and D Hayes clarity is a slider that I actually like a lot for landscape photos. If I drag this to the right and go crazy with it, you can start to see what happens edges of things get a little bit crispier. There is a little bit of contrast added, you get more detail and things like the sky and areas of this photo where the detail is a little blurred out. Versus if I go to the left, it gets all blurry and sort of glowy faded out. That might be a style you want for some photo edits. But for me, I'm going to usually increase clarity a little bit just to bring back some of those details. If you go crazy, it give that sort of HDR effect. It makes the exposure of everything a little bit better like it while it doesn't make it flatter in terms of overall exposure, the opposite of a contrast, it does make everything a little bit more exposed properly. So that is one slide that you can play around with for landscapes. It does help a lot de haze does just what it sounds like. It removes the haze, it brings detail and things like skies where it might be a little hazy. Now, if I crank this up, you start to see a lot more detail in the sky, but at the expense of exposure and just generally the photo looking like a normal photo. So I usually like to add a little bit of the hot haze, but more likely I'm going to do that with a local adjustment. So remember our backslash key is the keyboard shortcut for before and after we've gone through a few steps already looking good. The last one is that local adjustment lightroom has lots of them. Throughout this course, you're going to learn how to use a bunch of them. But the one I wanna show you right now is this graduated filter right here. If you click that a new window pops up with lots of adjustments you can make. But first you have to make your selection on the screen. The graduated filter basically allows you to select one side of your photo, top bottom, left, right diagonal by clicking and dragging. You create this and to see where you're actually selecting, you can press or check on this box down here, show selected mask overlay or press o on the keyboard and it highlights it in pink to see what's happening. We can go into more detail in a future lesson about making the selection a little bit more perfect with the range masks. But what we're going to do with these sliders will now affect only what's a above. On the top of this selection, you can move this around by clicking the.in the middle, dragging up and down. You can make the fade or the feathering of this effect, smaller or larger by clicking and dragging the edge line, the top or bottom. You can even rotate by clicking the outside of that central line and R clicking and dragging up and down. So if we wanna have this going over the horizon, something like that with this hill that looks pretty good. Now for the sky, I mentioned de haze is a great thing to do, but I didn't want that to be applied to the landscape down below. Now, it's just going to apply it to the sky. So if I click and drag up that de haze, you can see that it's being applied to the sky, making it look to me more interesting, more dynamic. And that's what I want in my photos here. I can also play with the temperature of the sky even more. Maybe I want it to be a little bit bluer, maybe a little bit more magenta too. So that makes this look even more dynamic with these local adjustments. We can turn on and off that specific adjustment or that specific mask by clicking on and off this button. And there you can see a quick example of why that makes it look even more dynamic. You can go too far with these effects. This one might have gone too far. Again, it's a personal preference, but they are powerful tools to make your photos really pop. When you're done with these adjustments, you can just click this done button button on the bo bottom. All right. So what we have gone through is six steps starting with having a great photo to begin with step two, being cropping and creating your frame. Step three with exposure, adjust step four with color adjustments. Step five with sharpening and clarity and de haze and then step six, our final one being local adjustments. This is just a not really quick anymore, but a relatively quick and easy edit overview of my steps for editing landscape photos. Throughout this course, I'm going to be using most of those steps in all of my photos sometimes in a different order in a different way, but generally, generally, that's the way that I like to edit my photos. And here you can see the before and after again, making this photo turn into this one a crazy difference. Definitely making it to me pop more and I like it a lot more myself. Something that I would more likely be sharing on social media printing out and just having as a photo that is one of my favorites. Of course, I didn't take this photo, but thank you to Kyung mccann who did take this photo. It's beautiful and hopefully, if you ever saw this, you would like how I edited it. All right. Those are my steps in the next lessons. And throughout this course, I'm basically just going to be walking through different photos one at a time, sharing my process. I hope you enjoyed and we'll see you in the next lesson.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Practice_Photos_for_Landscape_Editing_Course.zip

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