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Landscape Photography

Lesson 23 of 27

Basic and HSL Panel

Marc Muench

Landscape Photography

Marc Muench

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Lesson Info

23. Basic and HSL Panel
Continue fine-tuning your images using the Basic panel with sliders for exposure, contrast and more. Then, work inside the HSL panel to work with individual colors.

Lesson Info

Basic and HSL Panel

We're going to go into the basic panel, that I went over earlier, and hit the I key to get rid of that. And that's right here, so you can see, in this scenario, I've actually done a couple different things, I wanted to edit the picture the way a lot of folks do without any tone curve adjustment except for one kind of right in the middle, okay, this tone curve adjustment is not necessary for editing this picture, but typically, I go there first and I look at it, and I make sure that I have my highlights close to the right and the blacks close to the left, and that I don't move those in or out at all, and if it's close enough, then I'll go up to the basic tab where I'll start moving some of the sliders around, and I can either, again, mentioned, I can either take it, and bring my cursor over the top of the histogram and slide it up there, or come down over the actual sliders here, if you want to get the slider back to where it was, and you don't want to do it over the histogram, you doub...

le tap over the actual slider, okay, and that's right there, or any of the sliders there, and again, you can move this slider down here, or slide it up there, so what I've done, is I've gone in and I've made probably the one slider move that I make on most every edit in all of Lightroom, and that is the shadow slider. And that's because there's just so much more information in these shadows from these digital files than ever before, not only in the raw digital files, but also in the merged 32 bit files, and so you're going to see how radical a difference that'll make there. I think I talked about exposure slider, this is where you can change basically the middle tonality of this file, and it's just pretty much darker or lighter, contrast, I did mention that as well, you know, you're going to probably want to effect the contrast in the tone curve, if you're like me, but if you don't want to deal with learning the tone curve, then you have that option for the slider right there. Highlights are broken down into highlights and whites, and so that's important to understand the difference of the tonality, the highlights are not your brightest area of detail, that's your whites. The whites are not specular highlights, specular highlights have no detail, and so the difference between the white slider, and the highlights is just that little region way up in the brighter area of the picture, and in this case it's this area right in here, where this highlight is coming off the side of the back of the moss in the tree. Okay, so that's what those two are for, then you have the black slider, and this is where you can go dark in a hurry, the dark side, but essentially, that's again, I'll just point this out, that's the same as taking it up here on the histogram, or coming to the tone curve and just grabbing the very bottom of this tone curve, and dragging that over, so you can do it incrementally, or you can do it in the sliders down there in the tone curve. Inside the basic panel you also have some tools that are very helpful, especially the clarity vibrance and saturation, those are things you're going to do typically, though, after you set tonality the whole picture, again, after you've cropped and done all this other stuff. In addition, you have white balance, okay, and this is where it's sometimes subjective, but I want to take a little bit of that subjectivity out of it and I just want to go back to this image here which has a really nice, gray value, so we can relate to it. We know what gray clouds look like, or we think we do, here's the actual density of these clouds, in RGB figures, I'm looking at what happens to the numbers under this histogram, right here when I bring the cursor over it, I can't put the pointer over there, but I think you can see, it says red is 75 green is 75 and blue is 75, actually 75.4, 75.4, 75.5. So what's that? That's a gray, that's pretty much a castless gray, one tenth of a percent is not a cast that we can typically discern, okay, so that's just a good clue right there, that our white balance is set, at least accurately. If we want to change that, however, and we actually want this to be blue, or any other cast other than what it is, then we can change the temperature and tint, and you can do this visually, if you're wondering about how far to go, if you don't know if this looks accurate or good, they're two different concepts as we discussed, accurate, if that's what you're concerned about, there's a couple things that you can do, the easiest is you come over here, and you grab this eyedropper, and you go around until you find a spot, you can see these numbers underneath the bottom of that little graph, and they're showing me those same density numbers, and so you're looking for a point where it's actually as close to neutral as possible, and I'll just grab that spot right there, to show you what it'll do to the overall cast of this picture, it's set that spot that had a blue cast, to neutral. And so what that did is then it made the whole picture warmer, okay, so all you're doing when you grab that eyedropper, is trying to find something that's perfectly neutral, if we can find the tip of his shirt, now you can see, look at the red green and blue, the blue is much higher, so again, that has a blue cast, so if we want to take that blue cast out, we can set the white balance there. Marc, when you say neutral, you mean, the three numbers, the same, or as close possible. Exactly. Thank you. So a neutral color is where the red green and blue values are the same. So it doesn't have to be like, they don't all have to be zero, they don't all have to be 90 or some specific number, it's just they all have to be the same, so there's no more, because it's like, and I'm asking for clarity for me, actually, right now, but if you, so if like the red is higher, that means there's more red in that particular sample. Exactly, and one of the clues, beautiful segue, thank you for that. One of the clues is this histogram up here, okay, so when we check that little spot on his collar, look what happened to the colors, okay, so now all of a sudden the red is out past the yellow and the green and the blue, and that's a visual of what's happening to the overall color cast of this picture, so one of the other methods of altering color, or setting the white balance is to change those to all three of them line up right at the tip. Okay, that's this far right corner of the histogram, it's kind of hard to see, it's small, but I can still see a little bit of red, and a little bit of blue, or yellow, sorry, so if I bring that over just a tiny bit more, or back, I can do this, I know I can do this. Bring it back just a tiny bit more, all of a sudden now the very far right hand corner of that histogram is lined up and this is now considered neutrally balanced, or has a white balance. So to neutral, now, once you do that, then you have to make sure you drag that highlight over so that you use the whole entire spectrum or dynamic range of your picture and so that's what I'm doing here, or again, come down here, and take the tone curve, and move that over, I'll go back here, and move that over to the left, now I have spread the histogram out, so now I've done the two very basic things to every digital file, which is set the white point, and then set the location of where that white point is. It used to be done in one click, when I would typically use the tool in Photoshop, but now you have to do two clicks, get the highlight over there so that you're using the whole dynamic range of the file, and make it white, but that sort of sets the tone for the rest of your edits, okay. I also want to go into another panel, now there's a lot to the basic panel, I should show you one more thing, I'm going to do black and white in a little bit, so bear with me, this auto button right here, works sometimes, (laughs) but it is sometimes a good thing to look at, just gives you an idea of what you know, you missed, possibly, you can always go back, command Z, or something I want to show you also, is you go back over here on the left side, and on the left panel, here I'll close the navigator for a minute, you have all these options, and one of them is history, okay, and I can go all the way back to the import, and that'll eliminate all the mistakes I just made, get us back to where we were, in this case I'm going to go back to just having set the highlights, and maybe the tone curve, okay, just to get us back to ground zero, and then I'm going to go back to this picture up here, with the green moss. And one of the tools I used in here, I want to show you below basic and tone curve, is the highlight shadow and highlight saturation and luminance, okay, you have three things in here, HSL, color and black and white, and in here, I made a nice change, I think, to this picture, and that is, I'm going to zero these out, I think that by adding saturation with the saturation slider in the basic tab, is just that, it's basic, and so to refine the way you edit pictures and refine the way that they're going to look to other people, some colors in your picture don't need saturation, some do, so this is a great tool, and you can grab this little button in the upper left hand corner, click on it, okay. And now, when you bring that over the picture, you can actually see, if you look over here at these zeroes over here you can see where it's bouncing around, well if you click on that spot, those are the sliders it's going to activate, and so it gives you a visual clue, a physical clue of where in the image you're going to be able to edit that picture, or, the colors, sorry. So here I'm going to grab that green moss, and I'm just going to drag it up, and you can see a couple interesting things, one is it made just the yellows and the greens more saturated. So I didn't need to saturate the blues or any other color, but what's interesting about green, not everybody knows, is that most of green is yellow. So that's why that saturation slider moved over. And in addition, I went into luminance, because it's the same sliders, and I bumped up both, I'll bring these back, to give you the visual, I bumped up both green and yellow, and again, I can do it to the very same place, come over here with the cursor, oops, I want to select it not deselect it, and then grab the moss similar area and drag those up, and you can see now I've lightened up and saturated just the greens, and the fun part of that is I don't have to add a mask to try and grab all the greens, that's what that is that's exactly what that is, and that's a very powerful tool, they also give you a couple other options, before I go on, you can change that target group, as they call it right here, okay, so you can go back into saturation, and move those around, when you're done, you can hit done, I'll show you where these buttons are right down here, this little node is in the upper left hand corner as I said, and all the little sliders are for, I think, most of the colors we see in the landscape, so, the last one I'll leave on this tool is hue. Hue is kind of a dangerous tool (laughs), but it's going to change obviously the hue of the color, and that can be a very radical change, although sometimes, where this really works well, is in autumn when you have an autumn tree, and the autumn wasn't that good, and it's kind of green, you just come in here to the yellow and green sliders, and you turn that forest into autumn, so a little landscape cheat. Alright, so hue typically is something that you don't need to set, like I say though, I think a good example is autumn trees, another example would be a sky, sometimes based on your camera profile, your camera might evoke or include a lot of red in a blue sky, and you don't want to do, you don't want that red in the blue sky, you can come in here to the hue of the blue, change it, you move that red out of the blue sky. Okay, I have spot removal, and I want to do that, and that's pretty quick, hopefully (laughs) and that's to our great image of Grant, walking in the park, okay, so, this tool is way up here in the upper left hand corner under the histogram and it's right here, spot removal tool, looks like a big zero, click on that and it activates the cursor into a circle, you have the option here to clone, what I'm trying to do here by the way, is I'm trying to remove spots of dust that were on my censor, which is this, right here. Now you can clone anything, because the computer doesn't know it's a spot of dust, or a tree, or anything, like I say, so I'm going to take this and I want to get rid of that, and so I can move with either a two finger gesture, the size of this brush or I can come up here, and just move the slider until it gets about the same diameter as that spot that I want to remove. Click on it and it grabs a sample somewhere near where you're trying to clone, and you have a choice of either cloning it or healing it, alright, in this case, there's really no difference, but if you come back over here, and you move this down here, it's going to heal based on red pixels, so it's not going to do a great job, and in this case it's perfectly cloning the ship into the sky, now, the only reason I show you this is that often times, this doesn't work, and you have to move this little guy around to get it to the right spot so that when you clone or heal, that it actually looks like you cannot see or detect what you moved, okay, so, you know, you can use this tool in many different ways, I think often times there are too many smoke stacks in Seattle, so you want to get rid of a couple of them, or at least one, boom, we just got rid of 10% of all the smog ever created in Seattle. Alright, so that's pretty much spot removal, one other tool that's very helpful... Really quick, before you move on, I think we had a question, yeah. If you want to grab the mic. Yeah I was wondering about clarity and vibrance. Clarity and... Vibrance. Vibrance, good, right before I go there, I'm gonna just point out, in the spot removal tool, this one down here which is at the very bottom, and it's called visualize spots, and if you check that, it's going to do a great job of doing a black and white version of your picture, that it makes it easier so you can see those spots, okay, and then you can just drag the cursor over, where you see one of those spots, and boom, check it off, now, the thing is you've got to make sure, and click this on and off once in awhile, and make sure you're spotting out a dust spot, not a duck, so you can't tell sometimes when it's in that mode. Okay, back to basic panel, and you asked about clarity, and vibrance, clarity, what clarity is doing, is it's effecting a very narrow region of contrast typically around the mid tones, so in this case these clouds and the area right around the reeds it's not just the mid tones, are going to be effected, so these clouds are actually, sorry, most of them are, I guess quarter tones, and the mid tones are down here in these reflecting ripples, of the water, and we can see here how much it's effecting it there, so it's adding contrast to those areas of mid tones. While it's doing it, it's also effecting, and you can watch the histogram as I bring this back and forth, see where it's taking these values right here and dragging them to the left, and a few of the values in the quarter tones, and dragging them to the right, those are the regions that you're effecting with clarity, and typically when you look at a picture, sorry, got out of there, typically when you look at a picture like this, and you're trying to give it more excitement, first thing people do is go over and move that clarity slider all the way over, and part of that works, sometimes, but a lot of the times I think that happens and that is done because you didn't set that black point accurately or the highlight accurately, and then this helps it's a simple quick fix. So I use this fairly often, but only a little bit, five, 10%, 15 maybe. So vibrance, vibrance is really, I think, the secondary colors, so you have red green and blue, well, vibrance is really cyan magenta and yellow. Now I haven't heard anybody to say that, I know that it's a more subtle way of effecting the saturation of the colors, and in effect it also eliminates some of the detail in areas when you crank over the vibrance, rather than saturation, okay, so it is a much more preferred method especially, in landscape, to add color is to use the vibrance slider, rather than the saturation slider, so typically, I'm about if I add color, I'm adding more vibrance than I am saturation, so. Back to the vibrance, you were showing the sliders for the saturation, but the vibrance really doesn't have any of those separate sliders. Inside HSL, yes, well, in this case, it's in saturation of that particular color, so when you're using the vibrance, you're actually using probably the orange or the yellow, which is not a primary color, or the other colors, like I said, cyan magenta and yellow, so in that case you've got magenta down here, that's probably the color that vibrance is going to effect more, now, there's no correlation, you can't move the vibrance slider over, and watch these sliders move around, unfortunately. But that's what I think's happening. They're effecting some of those secondary colors, more than you are the primary colors, and so that's why it's a little more pleasing to the eyeball, if you will. Okay. Marc, when you have a good day out, and you're shooting in decent conditions, and you come back with files that you like, do you have a different way of approaching something, this would not be necessarily your ideal day, for shooting landscape outdoor, so is there some things that you wouldn't do, or would do that saves time and let's you get through a lot more files? So, do I want to edit this picture or not, (laughs) is kind of the question, I'm just going to assume, that's primarily why I try to get through those first three rounds, to get to the point where I really want to edit it, and that, it's a great question, because it's really difficult to make those decisions up front, especially in a hurry, and do it efficiently, and the only way around that is just experience, you know, you look at enough files, you do this enough, take enough pictures, and you're going to get to the point where you're going to be able to pick the pictures, and then those are the ones you really want to spend time on editing, but to be honest with you, sometimes no, I don't really know, and I make the mistake, and I go back into the two stars, and I think, oh wow, that could really look good, so I'm going to go into the develop tool, and I'm going to grab a, you know, a slider here, sorry, a graduated filter, and then I'm just going to add some contrast and clarity and see what happens to the sky, maybe not that dark, but it totally changes the picture now. And so rather than looking at it the way that I did originally, now I can appreciate it for something different, but you know that decision typically, I'm trying to make ahead of time, so even when I'm photographing, I'm thinking, you know this would look good with a really dark graduated filter over the top of it and so, that's the way I'm going to be able to edit it when I get to that second star, but honestly that doesn't always happen, so sometimes you have to go from the three stars back to the two stars, to answer. I've got a question from Jeremy Foster photo, and one other, are there limits to how far you should move sliders, such as, is shadows to 100 too much. (laughs) I love it, that's a great question. Can you move a slider too far? No. (laughs) So again, it's subjective, I have a good friend, Steve Hallmark who has been on many of my trips, and he actually is a music producer, and so, not producer, sorry, engineer, and he talks about sliders in sound all the time. And if you move the sliders to get the sound right, who cares where the sliders are? Everybody loves the sound, and so in the end, I guess it's just the same thing, when somebody looks at a picture, the only person who ever is going to ask you, who ever will ask you about the sliders, is another photographer, so, in the end, typically you want somebody to like the picture, you don't want to worry about the sliders, so yes, you lose detail, and there are consequences for moving the sliders but in the end, if the picture looks good, no, no limits. Great, one more from photo maker kind of on camera calibration, is it strictly a camera color issue, for example, my Canon shoots blueish, or does the lens used effect the calibration as well? The lens use, good question, it's possible. I know that a filter will effect the color dramatically, so it is possible that when they manufactured that particular lens, it contains a cast, or has a cast, because in the end, it's just gray, so I guess that's possible, so if you want to test it, then you simply make it calibration for that lens, and try it on another lens as well, and see if you get any different colors, so good question, you have to run the cycle through with the chart on both lenses to see.

Class Description


  • Capture great shots of landscapes and nature
  • Confidently shoot in manual mode
  • Fine-tune your eye for composition
  • Master light for landscape photography
  • Work with HDR and panoramas
  • Perfect your images with post-processing in Lightroom


Turn a spark of passion for the outdoors into beautiful landscape photography in this start-to-finish course. From gear and exposure to light and post-processing, master the landscape photography workflow with veteran artist Marc Muench. End the frustration of being unable to capture the raw beauty of nature and capture inspiring awe-inducing views on camera.

With both live instruction and on-site photography tutorials, you'll master both the technical and creative necessities for capturing better landscape images. After the adventure, learn to perfect the scene using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to crop, color and fine-tune those images. In addition, you'll tackle advanced techniques including HDR and panoramas.


  • Beginners ready to get off auto mode
  • Intermediate photographers looking to improve
  • Photographers ready to tackle landscape photography as a new genre

SOFTWARE USED: Adobe Lightroom CC 2015, Adobe Photoshop CC 2015


As a third-generation photographer, Marc Muench has spent nearly 30 years working as a landscape and sports photographer. His work has appeared on the cover of publications like Time, National Geographic, Traveler, Outside, Sierra Magazine and more. In addition to shooting, he leads photography workshops around the world. He teaches with a mix of technical and creative details and personal insight.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Lightroom Develop Module Tutorial

Lightroom Master Catalog Tutorial

Tips and Tricks

Equipment List

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Jeff McPheeters

This was my first class with Creative Live and also my first exposure to landscape photographer Marc Meunch. I've been a photographer for many years, an educator in science and technical fields for more than two decades, and a lifelong learner of the craft of making photographs. I am pretty picky when it comes to educational resources and when it involves recommending something that I want to reflect my own standards of excellence. That said, I came with an open mind, with some expectation that I would learn a few tricks, but also with the understanding that after spending thousands of hours in books and online courses as well as direct workshop and tutorials from a range of photographer workshops, Adobe training, KelbyOne and other professional organizations, that some of what I'd hear would be stuff I'd already known. My first impression was positive, as I think Creative Live did a good job explaining the purpose, intent, and scope of the workshop, as well as giving me a good idea of the speaker's credentials. As the session begin on Day 1, I was immediately impressed with the quality of the technical aspects of the live feed. It was like I was there. The sound quality was outstanding. The video streamed effortlessly and I only have wireless access to the Internet. I'm not on high speed wired cable. The bandwidth can fluctuate, yet it worked extremely well. The speaker, Marc Meunch, was relaxed, engaging, professional, and possessed such a comprehensive and deep understanding of the topic that I felt extremely lucky to have been told about this workshop. I don't think I've ever been able to watch someone who was so masterful in their presentation, so thorough in their organization and outline, so enthusiastic about their work, so passionate about the craft of landscape portraiture, or so articulate and engaging with the audience; at least in the realm of Photography. I'd jump at any chance to listen to Marc Meunch again; and especially to attend one of his outdoor workshops. One of the unique aspects of this workshop was that Marc uses some video clips from his outdoor workshops to illustrate what he's talking about in the classroom. Very effective. And the slides he chooses to share are effective and easy to understand. It's very inspiring to watch Marc present ideas and illustrate them through his own work, showing before and after and alternate compositions to demonstrate the point he's making. Day 1 was so good that before it was over I'd already purchased the two day workshop. I was that certain it was worth the cost. Frankly, I'm not sure I'd find a class like this for under $100/day. This is a pretty good deal. Day 2 was equal in usefulness and inspiration as Day 1. The discussion of gear selection and scouting techniques along with the introduction to his Lightroom and Photoshop workflow was very helpful and would be especially apropos to someone getting more serious about their landscape work but not very experienced with Lightroom or Photoshop, even perhaps a little intimidated by the prospect of needing to learn those two software giants, because Marc shows the power and easy of learning them. I was pleased I was able to attend and even more pleased I can watch these over and over and study points I didn't quite grasp the first time through. I highly recommend this course. The viewer will be inspired and encouraged as a result. Marc doesn't make it look easy; rather he makes landscape photography look fun and exciting and worthy of the effort and time to find ones own style and vision, clearly imparting the practical how-to's to aid each person in their own journey to make it more enjoyable and satisfying.

a Creativelive Student

I don't like writing reviews. Seems like everyone just wants to hear that everything was... awesome. So, let me try to be specific about what I liked: I thought that the concept of the creative trinity was brilliant. I thought that Marc's presentation on composition was the best I've ever seen. His ideas on having a theme for shooting was inspiring because it was simple. He also had some great tips on light. The other thing I appreciated about Marc's presentation was the wide variety of locations shown and his knowledge of them. I also am always interested to learn more about the people that have inspired presenters. Sometimes, it feel like CL classes are aimed at the lowest experience levels. But, as someone else said in review... there is always a nugget or two and review is beneficial. I wish Marc was more animated. He's obviously very self contained and reflective -- gotta be who you are, right? I have purchased Marc's class, the Shive class, and Art Wolf's class. All have had different benefits. I wish they would do others and take complexity up a notch -- specifically, helping others understand the planning necessary... how they find reliable contacts to guide them and what those things cost. How they are transporting all the gear they carry. More specific information on permits, camping gear, dealing with adverse conditions, etc. And, more information on how they get different images of frequently photographed locations.


I happend to stumble upon the course by an email. I clicked on it and realized that Mark had come to my town (Sitka,Alaska) to do a trip with my good friend. So I thought I'd watch a bit. After awhile I realized this is good, way good. So I shot a lot of that day just eating it up. The director would come on every bit and say there was a show price. I thought well I'll just watch. Then on the second day he did some things that the announcer said he had never seen. I thought the same thing. So I bought. I have been shooting for 40 years and I still LOVE to learn. A noted psychologist said "We are happiest when we are learning" and I couldn't agree more. Thank you Creative Live for offering these courses. I live on an Island in Southeast Alaska with 14 miles of road. BUT I can be a front row student with some of the best teachers in the world. Thank You! Also a Huge thank you to Mark. It takes a ton of time to do this, and Im sure you get tired of the same questions again and again, but it truly changes the lives of us who love this type of life.