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Landscape Photography

Lesson 20 of 27

Lightroom Catalog Setup


Landscape Photography

Lesson 20 of 27

Lightroom Catalog Setup


Lesson Info

Lightroom Catalog Setup

I talked about time lapses and, one of the things you want to do when you're editing is you really want to kind of take a quick view of what you did. So, in this case, this morning I walked into the studio here, and made sure I was in the right studio. And so, I'm just making sure that that's all happening and it's live. There's you guys. Sorry it's a little out of focus, but we talked about how to correct that. So, this is really just the basics of editing. I'm gonna talk a little bit about the different stages that you'll go through as you edit. You've got to keep up as far as library and the folders and collections. I've told you a little bit about folders and how I structure those, but I really want to talk about collections. The tip really is that inside that collection, you're gonna end up with just the best ones. You can leave all your other ones out of that collection. People don't need to see those bad ones. At least, that's how I use it. All this stuff can be modified for wha...

tever workflow you want. But I really need to emphasize that collections are a powerful tool, and you're gonna like them, especially once you get the hang of using them. Stars and flags, I use quite a bit, and so, in this case, we really like this picture of our host, and so we'll give it a one star, well, no, maybe we'll give it a five star. And so we like that one. But just to give you a quick example, the power of the database is basically that it is a database, and so, some of the best tools you can use in this database are right up here. So, all these pictures can be sorted, or found, by just typing in something in the keyword right here. Or, you can disregard anything as a keyword and just simply sort by the attribute, in this case, five stars. So now you've just eliminated from preview all the other pictures. Turn that off. Metadata, this one's really handy because, as I mentioned earlier, I used a 28 to 300 lens, and through looking at metadata of all the pictures I took, I realized that most of them I captured from that lens were at 50. But this gives you a whole nice list of not only when you took the pictures, but what camera you used, what lens you used, and you can decipher what you use the most and what you don't want to use again. And remember, when you go into that camera store, think about what cameras you're gonna buy based on how often you used it, right? Okay, so first of all, we have the library view, which is what we're looking at right here. And then we have the develop module which is over here, and all these other modules, I'm not gonna address in this class because there's not enough time to do all that. I'm gonna focus on the library and the develop module because those are the things that are gonna matter. Some of the things that I use in here continually are shortcut keys. G is for grid, the space bar is to look at a picture larger, and that's one that I constantly use. I sort through pictures with the arrow keys, and as you saw here, it was a very quick way to bring up all these pictures and look at them fast. Some of the other shortcut keys are, when we're looking at these pictures, we hit the F key to look at them full frame. There's our friends working hard. Go back to G, that brings us back to the grid view. What's also fun is, you select a couple of these, maybe we'll go up here, select these, and you hit N and it brings up all three. That's a really nice way to help you in your process of editing. Again, I'm gonna go back to G to get back to the grid view. And then, if you want to look at some of the information on the image, some of that is previewed by just tapping the I key, and that gives you not only the file name, it gives you the date, the resolution, and you can modify it of course. In this case, it gives you just the shutter speed and the ISO. Why? Because I had the meta bones adapter on the Sony, it's not giving me the aperture. But typically it'll give you the aperture and all that good information. The other key I use often, I'm gonna go back to G, is the tab key. It eliminates the panels on both sides so that you can see more of the preview that you're looking at, and as you're looking through your pictures, and you come to one that you really don't like, the X key. That sets it to be rejected, as it says, but you don't have to delete it now. This is important, like I said, if you're on a trip, and you want to just mark these so that you don't have to deal with them later when you get back home, you leave them on your computer while you're traveling, and then you get back home wherever you are, and then you hit command, let me hit another one here, then you hit command delete, and it brings up only those marked with an X, and you can delete them at that time all at once. So those are some helpful hints. But speaking of deleting, don't delete, okay, unless it's one of those that's really out of focus, I mean really out of focus or really overexposed, but remember, based on what I was saying earlier, you do not want to delete these pictures until you have more time to process them and learn about it. So, to kind of conclude, and it'll be a long conclusion, but to conclude this hour, I do want to talk about the stages and the rounds of editing. So, what I do when I first get these pictures in, is I make sure, first of all, that I have a nice place to sit down and take into account some of the things that I've been looking at. And I really want to create the scenario where I'm not hastily going about this. Now it depends on your time, but essentially, the workflow for me is, I have different rounds of editing, and I do different things in those different rounds. First round of edit is really just a loose look. Look through things really quickly. Don't check for focus, you don't need to know if it's in focus if it's really close. Remember, you can tell on a preview that it's way out of focus, that's not what I mean. Don't go to one-to-one and spent the time to look for focus. Scan them in thumbnail size only, and don't try to label anything. You just open the file, you hit tab, and you basically go like this, and sometimes there's thousands of pictures. But you're just getting a good idea of, oh, I started here, I've got all my pictures. Make sure they're all there, the file names are right. It's just a really quick scan. That's kind of round one, okay. Round two, this is where you're actually going to start flagging things. You're gonna add stars. And how I do it is, I first remember, this is a little bit more about mindful observation. So get into that frame of mind, because now you're gonna start looking at these pictures, you're gonna hit the space bar, and your gonna go, "Do I like that one?" Well, she's awfully beautiful, but I'm way out of focus, so really quickly I'm not going to star it. I'm gonna go through there, that's a better one, and you get the idea. And I'm just sorting through like this, hitting the space bar or the arrow key, I'm going through and I'm saying, "I really like that one." If I like a whole bunch like that, I'll go back to the grid view, and with the shift key down, select them all, and then hit one, and it gives them all a one star. So that's round two. I've given them one stars. Sometimes, occasionally, like I said, I might go up to one and look at it and then, by clicking once, by default, you go into one-to-one. And so occasionally when I'm in round two, I will check focus. Not all the time. Go back to grid view and then we come to round three. Again, I just want to remind you, don't delete the files. Not yet, no matter how depressed you are. This happens, you get back from a shoot, you just scoured through everything, you go through, you're trying to hit one stars, and you're thinking to yourself, "Self, that looks nothing like what I saw out there." And it does happen. I see it happen often. Our expectations about what's gonna happen here are dependent upon a whole lot of other work that's coming up. So just don't delete, again. So again, we're back to round two. Don't be hypercritical, don't check for focus, don't check for color, don't even check for exposure at this time. So, third round. Now you're gonna go and you're gonna come up here to attribute, and you're gonna sort by one star. Now you have all the ones that you just picked fairly liberally. Your job next, I jumped ahead of the game and gave you a five star, but that's what I do when I come to a picture that's the best thing I can't live without. So, I'm proud to have your picture and your portrait in my collection. I gave you a five star. But honestly, most of the time I'm going through here, and I'm giving things that I really like two stars, like so, and I'm just gonna randomly pick here, and of course, that one and these guys here. So, once I get to that point, I have two stars, then I'm going to start looking at things like focus, and I'm gonna start looking at things like color and detail. You might even want to check the histogram. So you come in here, and you go into develop, by hitting the D key, it's pretty quick, and you look at this histogram and you go, "Mm, that one's kind of okay, exposure's good enough." It just gives you a good reference. This is where your mind starting to get an idea of what things are working, what things you messed up. So now you've gone through and you've sorted out the two stars. Now it doesn't happen this fast. I'm going through this really fast so you guys get the idea and the whole workflow, but essentially this could take hours depending on how many pictures you have. Then you come up to attribute, you simply add the two star to the flag, or to the search criteria. Now, you do the same thing, but this is when things get a little more critical, because the pictures after the two star moment are ones that you want to process. Those are the ones that you really want to spend your time on. So now is the time to look at the focus, to look at the exposure, to look at the overall composition, and just check all these things that we've been talking about. You want to make sure that they've really happened in your camera, the things that you think you did. This is the time to pick that out, because once you get down to three stars, and we'll just give these more fun pictures the three star, then you're gonna take all these, select them, I'm gonna hit tab, and I'm gonna come down here to collection, and I'm gonna say Create a Collection, and in this case, I'm gonna call it Creative Live. And I'm not gonna put it in a set yet. I'm just gonna make the collection and hit create, and way down here at the bottom, I have my Creative Live ... I did forget to hit a button, oh no. So, I come down there and I will have my Creative Live collection, but again, to recheck this, I'm gonna go into see all, and I'm gonna it attribute, find my three stars by sorting, and then I'm gonna drag those into the Creative Live folder. So there's more ways to skin the cat than some of the buttons they show. Now, you have your collection, you have your folder still there with all your images in it, you didn't delete them, but you've weeded out from all these images the images that you really want to spend time on and work on. And that's the stages, or the rounds, of the workflow that I use constantly. I try to use that. Once in a while, like I did, I got excited, I gave it a five star. For that reason, I have a five star image. And regarding the five star images, those are ones that are, honestly, the occasions in life when I'm out shooting that I simply know I will never see again. I'll put those on another little back-up stick or anything. One of the best examples of this was, when we were in Africa and our guide took us out to photograph these elephants crossing the dusty pliah. He'd been there his whole life photographing, but that night was so spectacular that it actually scared him that he was gonna lose the pictures. So, in addition to having the pictures on the camera card and saving them to two other hard drives, he had a third thumb drive which he put in his pocket while we were driving around the rest of the trip. So, sometimes you really don't want to lose your pictures, and this is a very powerful way of making sure you can identify the best pictures in your catalog right away, okay. So, I went through that fast, but I think you've got the general idea. You've got the stars, different rounds, different reasons for editing pictures and looking at pictures and giving you a feel for how they look, and what you did in the field, whether it was successful or not. John, see pics and one other, "Do you GPS tag your images for location?" Good question. Don't listen to my answer. I'm old school, I do not, but I know a lot of people that do, and they really enjoy it because it goes into the map feature in Light Room, and it's fun for them to identify exactly where they took it. Like I said, I'm kind of old school. I figure it out and I don't need it, but anyways. I'd like it if it was easy and inside the camera and I didn't have to attach something to get it. So when that comes, I'll use it. Great. One more. "How do you deal with winnowing out your photos when you've bracketed everything?" That's coming up. I'm gonna show you how to take a group of bracketed files and do what's called grouping them, or stacking them. It's a quick way to eliminate some of the cluster. I love that we're hitting so many questions that people have. You're saving all of your photos in the one catalog? Does it take forever to open it, and then, when you've culled them and you've put them into different collections, where are all the ones that you didn't delete? Do they just sit in the catalog? All right, good questions. The files that I didn't delete are still actually up inside the folders, and so all those can be viewed as long as you don't remove them. Lightroom gives you the option to delete or remove. I never remove, because then I lose track of what's actually on the hard drive that I can't see. Somebody might have a reason for using that, but I don't. Anyways, I don't delete them. I leave them on there, and they're always visible if I go back to the folders to find them. And it does not, depending on your computer. If you have an old computer, it might take a while to load, and that's gonna be based on your processor and the attachment to ... if you have an external hard drive. That attachment could be USB 2 instead of 3, or thunderbolt. There's different ways the data gets back and forth. If that's slow, that could slow down the way it finds the catalog and previews it and shows it. The other thing is the drive itself might be slow. So all the machinery has to be operating quickly for Lightroom to work fast. Unfortunately, it's more money to get the speed, which is always the case. I was wondering what you do when you've shot a certain location, you have several different versions of it that you like, some vertical, some horizontal. Do you figure those at at the round four when you're going through, or comparing them all and deciding which compositions you like best, or do you wait until a later point? No, I think when I make up my mind on the compositions of a sequence of images that I took in one particular spot, great question, I'm gonna do that before the last round, because that decision's being made so that I'm not gonna spend time editing all those other images to find that out. So I'm gonna try and figure that out before I have to waste, not waste, but spend, ten, twenty minutes or whatever it is, to edit each picture. So I really want to figure that out first, before the final round. I'm not saying that I never go back to the other rounds and pull one out, which is all the more reason why I don't delete.

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.


  1. Class Introduction

    In the past, landscape photography wasn't considered even considered a profession. But, today is one of the best times to be a landscape photographer. Learn why -- and meet your instructor in this intro lesson.

  2. The Nature of Landscape Photography

    Landscape photography and nature are inseparable. In this lesson, learn why bonding with nature is essential to landscape photography, along with factors like an eye, scale, and how to take a critique.

  3. Finding Your Eye

    Seeing in photography has an entirely different definition. In this lesson, learn how to refine your eye for photographs and develop your individual style.

  4. Gear Bag

    What's in a landscape photographer's gear bag? What focal lengths are best for nature photography and landscapes? Learn what's typically in Marc's bag on a shoot, from the DSLR camera body, wide-angle lenses, and longer lenses to accessories like tripods, neutral density filters (ND filters), and polarizing filters. Then, learn what non-photo accessories are also helpful, like a headlamp.

  5. The Creative Trinity

    The subject, composition, and light work together in what Marc calls the Creative Trinity. Learn why the subject should be considered first, and why composition and light come second for digital photography.

  6. Scale

    Scale creates a sense of size to the image -- and often, a sense of drama. Learn how to understand size to create depth and drama -- then play with scale as a visual trick. In this lesson, Marc shares landscape photography tips using scale and proportion, like adding a person to instantly create a sense of scale.

  7. Light and Timing

    The time of day can play a big role in the results of that final image, including the amount of light in the photograph. But while most photographers pack up after golden hour and sunset, Marc says that often means missing the best part of the day. In this lesson, learn the stages to sunset and sunrise and tricks to working with low light and night photography. Then, learn "drills" or exercises you can do to improve your own timing by learning your digital camera's controls. Discover why your timing on that shutter button is still essential, even with landscapes.

  8. The Technical Trinity

    Aperture or f-stop, shutter speed and ISO all work together to create a balanced exposure -- but they also play a role in other areas of the image as well. Master the camera settings -- as well as depth of field, dynamic range, and camera stability -- using the Technical Trinity.

  9. Metering, White Balance, and Depth of Field

    Metering inside manual mode is a process -- pick up those essential steps in this lesson. Figure out how to read that histogram, then, work with white balance (and the way the white balance can be thrown off my ND filters). Finally, control how much of your image is in focus with depth of field.

  10. Shutter Speed

    While also balancing the exposure, shutter speed will freeze or blur any motion in the image, from the clouds in the sky to the waves on the ocean. Determine when to use a slow shutter speed for blur, and when fast shutter speeds work best. Gain insight into choosing the right shutter speed for the scene and when to compromise with ISO.

  11. Focus

    Where do you focus in a landscape image? What focus modes do you use? Walk through the best focus settings for landscape photography and gain the know how to get those tack sharp photos.

  12. The Vocabulary of Composition Part 1

    Composition uses several different terms and even guidelines like the Rule of Thirds. Master essential elements to composition by learning what draw's the viewer's eye, like shapes, lines, focus, texture, and more.

  13. The Vocabulary of Composition Part 2

    Continue delving into composition and drawing the eye. Work with point-of-view, depth of field, contrast, color -- and use focus to draw the viewer's eye into the ideal part of the composition. Learn why not every landscape photograph needs a narrow depth of field.

  14. Techniques in the Field: Scouting

    Most great landscape photographs aren't just stumbled upon. Scouting is the process of looking for scenes that create great landscapes. And without deadlines and restrictions, scouting can be a creative exercise. But scouting is more than simple exploring -- here's how to set up for success in scouting.

  15. Pre-visualization

    Seeing a photo in your mind before you actually take it is called pre-visualization. This helps you make the right choices when planning, like when to shoot. Gain insight into planning the shot -- and tackling the unexpected opportunities -- in this lesson.

  16. Bracketing

    What happens when one exposure isn't enough? Bracketing will capture multiple shots of the same image, adjusting the exposure each time. Bracketing allows for techniques like HDR and can also be helpful if you're just not sure hot to get the histogram right. Learn when to use bracketing, what settings to use, and the best practices for capturing a bracketed series.

  17. Tilt Shift Lens

    The tilt-shift lens is a fun creative lens -- and you only need a few minutes to learn before shooting. Discover tips for working with tilt-shift, like shifting instead of tilting and working with the wider point of view.

  18. Long Exposures

    Long exposures are a landscape photography favorite. Determine what gear you need, how long to make the exposure, and tricks to shooting with slow shutter speeds.

  19. Post Processing: Importing into Lightroom

    Start fine-tuning those landscape shots inside Adobe Lightroom. Learn how to add photos to Lightroom, how to organize images, and tips for adding images to make them easy to find later.

  20. Lightroom Catalog Setup

    With your photos into Lightroom, set up your catalog for success. In this lesson, learn how to sort and rate images, frequently used keyboard shortcuts, and the various stages of editing. Work with collections and catalogs inside Lightroom.

  21. Color Correction

    Gain insight into best practices for color correction for landscape pictures. Learn the gear that color corrects your monitor and how to decide what's too much color and what's not enough.

  22. Develop Module

    Dive into post-processing with Lightroom's Develop module. Learn how to use Lightroom tools to turn RAW files into the spectacular scene you remember. Work with camera profiles, cropping, curves, the histogram, and more.

  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.

  24. Filters - Regional Dynamics

    Filters aren't just physical tools you use in the field. Lightroom's different filter tools apply adjustments to only portions of the image. Learn how to adjust specific areas of the photograph -- not the entire photo -- in this lesson.

  25. Merge HDR Images

    Combining bracketed shots in Lightroom creates an image with high dynamic range. Learn how to finish the HDR technique using the merge tool inside Lightroom. Start with grouping the images, then learn how to edit with HDR.

  26. Stitching Images and Manual Blending

    Craft a panorama from multiple images. Use Photoshop to stitch a panorama. In this lesson, Marc teaches a simple stitch method. Then, work with advanced Photoshop methods like a manual stitching process for more complex HDR images.

  27. Converting to Black and White

    Black and white can create powerful landscape photography -- but the colors don't always transfer over to the right shade of gray. Determine whether or not to convert an image or leave it in color. Then, control the results using Lightroom's tools.


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.