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Landscape Workflow

Lesson 4 from: Post-Processing Workflow for Portraits and Landscapes

Blake Rudis

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Lesson Info

4. Landscape Workflow

Lesson Info

Landscape Workflow

So you're gonna see here that whether I'm working on a portrait or I'm working on a landscape I'm doing the exact same thing. But what I'm doing here is I'm gonna do like a hybrid thing. I'm gonna go into Adobe Camera Raw and then I'm gonna hop into Photoshop and show you some more things with this with Photoshop and you're like, really good photo Blake. I have no idea what this is, right? Well, this is, the Tallgrass National Preserve in Kansas. This is a one room schoolhouse that still looks exactly like it did back in the day. It's all set up. It's a beautiful place to shoot if you're ever in that area. And believe it or not, there is more to do in Kansas than fly over it, okay? I live in Kansas City and I frequent a lot of those areas and it's a very beautiful countryside. But with this specific image, notice how I wasn't going too strong in my highlights and not going too strong in my shadows and I was specifically shooting for a decent range in my histogram. Even with the sunset,...

you can do it. But what I'm doing here is I'm gonna do basically a two step process on my tones because with this image, this sky needs something and this foreground needs something. And they both need the reverse, right? But what would happen if I shot this landscape with this landscape bright and the sky? My sky would be washed out and this would be all bright, right? Well, if I shot this so that it was darker, this would get even darker. So I was shooting for something right in that middle range so that I could modify it further later. So, in looking at my sliders here, I've got my exposure, I've got my contrast, my highlights and my shadows here. And we got the, you know, the typical ideas like let's just slam up our highlights and you know, do the HDR effect. Well, that only goes so far with an image like this until you start to get like, this like, wavy kinda, I don't know the technical term, like, I'm getting like blue highlights and blue shadows and it's just not looking, it's too contrasting and it's not looking that great. So I'll dial this down because I know that I can't get it with that, right? So I'll move this down over here, move this down over here, and just boost those up just a little bit. Maybe even increase by exposure a little bit while dropping down those highlights to really boost up that sky. But I'm not gonna spend too much time in these basic adjustments. Because what I wanna do is I wanna single out this top area and this bottom area. Notice how we went from the freshmen level, a very basic Adobe Camera Raw stuff to now, the sophomore level, where you're learning a little bit more about what you can do in Adobe Camera Raw. So I'll come up here to the graduated filter. The graduated filter's really cool because I can pinpoint where I want it to go and drag it down and get an exact area of exposure or tone or color to that exact area. Or, get another one and bring it up and that's exactly what I'm gonna do here. I'm isolating my foreground and my background so that I can do different things to them because quite honestly, this was a very vibrant orangeish sunset, or sunrise I should say. And this was a rather green landscape. But there's an interesting thing that happens in our camera. Our camera can only capture one white balance at a time, alright? Now, if you're shooting in raw, it captures every white balance, right? But it only captures one instance of color. The same way it can only capture one instance of light. So, if you tell it that this is the exposure value I want you to capture, that's what it captures. Now of course, we can come in post production and we can move those sliders around and we can get whatever we want out of it but we have to think of color in the same way also. Because the white balance for this should be more of a yellowish, right? The white balance for this should be heavier on the greenish Maybe even a little bit of blue and magenta up here. So, by isolating our foreground and our background, we now get complete control over the tone and the color of that area. So I'm gonna take this graduated filter, notice how my mask is magenta 'cause I don't have any problem with that psychological trigger of magenta. So I'll click on my mask here to show exactly where it is and I'll just grab this and pull it down. If you press and hold shift while you do that, it will allow you to not be doing this like, squiggly like, oh I gotta get this almost perfect, where is it, just go ahead and press and hold shift and it'll lock it in place for you so that you are either moving in 15 degree angles or straight up and down. So I'll move that right about there and then just drag it down right from the middle. And then I'll turn that mask off 'cause at this point I wanna go and make that sky a little bit darker. I wanna go ahead and maybe make those highlights a little bit brighter. Maybe make those shadows a little bit darker. But do the really magical thing that's gonna make this thing pop and that's gonna be by adding some more yellow to that area up there and then maybe adding even a little bit more magenta to that area up there to start getting more of that sunset look. But I know that I can't get my vision right now. I can't. Because Adobe Camera Raw doesn't have the capability to do the things that I wanna do to exploit this even further. So notice how the process is that tone, that color, and the effects, here I'm focusing on that tone and color right here in this, and then I'll hop on over into Photoshop and really nail this thing with some awesome effects. So, while I'm not really too concerned with getting this perfect, I just need the data to have something there that I can exploit. So I'm gonna go ahead and add a new one and I'm gonna level out all my settings here. Maybe, just hit the plus on the exposure because when you press the plus or the minus here, all your settings go back to normal and then when you press plus it just goes up to 0. or adding a half of an exposure. So I'll click here, press and hold shift, and move it up so to brighten up that area. But I know that this area needs a little bit more green, see that? Brighten that up with a little more green there. And then maybe we give it a little bit more of that yellow to get, 'cause I'm gonna be adding some of that yellow coming across the image here. If I go into my highlights here, I can boost the highlights of that foreground, almost like I'm starting to sculpt with light at this point. So I move it down, it gets darker. Move it up, it gets brighter. And then I can go ahead and look at my shadows and see if I need to really brighten those up. I wouldn't suggest doing that or bringing those down. It looks good right about there. And to this extent, I'm pretty happy with it 'cause I've got the foreground isolated. I've got the background isolated. And if you're wondering if this absolutely makes a difference, it does, 'cause if I turn this little, my sliders off, that's what was it before and this was the after. But it's still not to the extent that I want it for my vision. I need to keep pushing this a little bit further. I need to keep pushing that mold and I can only do that with some artistic effects that I can really only do in Photoshop. So, I'm gonna go ahead and open up this image now and get us into Photoshop. So if you're following along with this four phase work flow concept, we're actually working on the tone and the color, kind of in that preliminary phase to set us up for further editing in Photoshop. So, I told you, that while it is a four phase blueprint, it still has areas for variables and areas where you can modify things accordingly, depending on what the image tells you it wants or what the image tells you it needs. So I go in and open this image up and one of the things I'm gonna do is dodging and burning. I told you at the beginning this needs some dodging and burning, right? So I've got my trusty Wacom tablet here that really helps me with this. My favorite form of dodging and burning is to create a new layer, change that layer to 50% gray by going to edit and then fill and 50% gray. And changing this to soft light and nothing happened. Awesome. Anyone that's familiar with soft light is what soft light does is if something is 50% gray it will not edit your image. But if it gets a little bit lighter, it's gonna make the area brighter without ever getting pure white and if it goes a little bit darker it's gonna get darker but never get pure black. So with dodging and burning in mind, I can use my dodge and burn tools on a 50% gray layer and why I like to do that as opposed to maybe two curves or maybe two different layers is that if you're using the dodge and burn tools, at any time you can press alt or option and flip back and forth to each one, alright? So, on the fly I can be like, I'm painting here with this, and then I'm gonna show you how I'm gonna do that. So I'll go ahead and select my dodge tool. I always start with my highlights in my dodge tool. And notice how my exposure's set to 15% up here. That's a really important one. You don't want to set this to 100% 'cause it'll work really fast and really hard. So I'll right click this and make sure that my brush is at a hardness of zero and that looks good about there. I'm gonna get this a little bit bigger at this point and as I paint with this, I'm just kinda sculpting the landscape with light a little bit. I'm saying I want you to be brighter 'cause you're my focal point. And then I'll come down here and maybe make this a little bit brighter down here. And then if I press alt or option at any time, it's gonna switch right over into burning. So I can darken these areas of the trees down and start to create depth by pushing and pulling light. So notice how I said that this isn't necessarily a tone thing. This is the trump card. It's kind of an effect but it's definitely something I want to do before I move into my artistic and creative processing. So I might even come up here into the sky and just maybe hit that with a little bit of white and then press alt or option and maybe make some of these clouds a little bit darker to add some more drama to them. You know, the sky is really the limit for me. And if something isn't really jiving for me, I don't have to try and go back. I can make a mask and I can just paint with black with a really big brush here and that will block out any of those areas for me if I'm using the brush tool. Not the dodge and burn tool. So I'll just brush that out just a little bit 'cause I want some, you know, some different variations of light in the clouds up there. And the next thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna do one of my favorite things and I get really excited when I do this. I love, I love, I love gradients. Gradients are phenomenal and you can really change the whole look and feel of an image just by adding one gradient. So with this, I'm gonna go ahead and I'm gonna show you very, many different variations of that. Here's where we're transitioning into now the effect base of things, okay? So I want this image to have more of that sunset feel or that sunrise feel, that's what this was. Is that a lot of times you're gonna play the sunset or sunrise game. It's a fun game to play. You never know what it is unless you know what direction the person shot in, right? So we'll go ahead and add a gradient. And that gradient that I'm gonna add is gonna be a gradient that goes into like a yellow to red type of look. And gradients are really easy to make. I have a lot of gradients that I've made for myself here. So you can see I have a big palette of gradients. You're not gonna see the same gradients that I have 'cause I've built all of my gradients over a very long period of time. I've even titled this one strawberry banana. You like that? It's my strawberry banana gradient. So what I'll do is I'll click on one of these colors and you can change any of these colors into any color that you want. And then when you're done, you come down here and you just press new and it will add it right to the end. And now you've got your own gradient. So I highly encourage you to experiment and take a good, solid three hours, I'm not joking, to build a bunch of gradients built off of the principles of color theory. So you have your reds and your cyans. Maybe even some of your more harmonious things like your reds and your greens, your blues and your oranges or yellows. Or, like this. This is an analogous gradient. This gradient is going from a yellow into an orange or a deeper kinda red or like a burnt umber if you're a Crayola person. And then right here, you've got that transition of orange in between. So, this gradient by itself is not very good. And I'm gonna come back into this gradient fill in a second. But I need to change this to, I'm gonna use soft light 'cause it's gonna, well, let's change it to overlay, it's gonna be even more dramatic. Overlay is gonna give me a really dramatic look in this image. And I'm gonna drop the opacity down just a slight bit, kay? And maybe go about 66% there which is about two thirds so it's not an arbitrary number. It's two thirds. Kinda like we think in terms of stops. We can do the same thing when we're editing our images. So I'll click on this gradient which allows me to edit it even further. And I can change this. So now the red is the bottom but I want the red at the top. So If I just press this reverse button, it's gonna reverse it. And then I can click this and drag this down to get it exactly where I want that gradient to be. And I can change any of these colors at any time. If I wanted to I could click on this and change this yellow color here to maybe a little less of a yellow or even go into the green side of things and boost that up in the greens and press okay. So you don't, you're not stuck with whatever you have in your gradient palette. You can always modify them whenever you want. There's a really cool gradient in here called reflected and the reflected gradient can be really nice because if you drop the scale of this a little bit you can really pinpoint exactly where the gradient's gonna happen 'cause it'll reflect itself so basically what's happening is the green is starting here and going up into your oranges and the green is starting here and going down into your oranges. It's a reflected gradient. If we change the scale down, really low, you can really see that and you can get exactly where you want it to be, kay? And then we'll just leave this, we'll go back up a little bit here right about there, kay? I'm gonna change this back from reflected to linear. I'm just showing you some different options that you have with these gradients. And I'll go ahead and press okay. The gradients are really cool because you can do some even really odd things with the gradient. Almost effects that wouldn't think you could even do. So, like we come up here and add another gradient to this. I'm gonna make this gradient a radial gradient. I'm gonna keep it like this, I'm gonna drag this down a little bit, maybe bring this down even further here. So what I'm doing is I'm really trying to isolate this down and almost make it look like what's gonna be a sun, okay? A very kitsch kind of effect but you're gonna see how this can be pretty powerful here so make a yellowish color there and then I'll add another color right here and make this maybe a deeper orange color and then come right here, maybe make this a deeper red color. Press okay. Okay. And then I can drag this to wherever I want, increase that scale and then I can drop down that opacity really low and I can start to make and build a sun style effect in my image. So you can even use it for artistic effects to the point that it looks like something that wasn't there before. Now if you want to make it really look like it blends in you can get into something we call blend if where we protect certain areas of our image so we can protect those underlying layers by doing this and it'll protect some of those shadow areas underneath that and blend that sun in. Our fake, faux sun into our image there. Kind of a cool technique that you can do with the gradient. So, that was the flip side of things is that using Adobe Camera Raw into Photoshop so that we can do our tone and our color stuff, get a baseline image. Bring that baseline image in and then modify those effects a little bit further with dodging and burning, gradient fills. We can even use gradient maps at this point or even something like a solid color layer and modify those, blend modes accordingly to get the exact look and feel that we want.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Blake Rudis' Workflow Actions
Intro to Workflow
Workflow Blueprint

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Adobe Stock Tutorials

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Great class, great instructor. Fast, to the point and on target. Lots of useful good info. No stories, no fluff, just down to business. Well worth your time and effort.


Great class to bring you from self-taught (or free online) to professional-level performance! I’ve been working in ACR (via Bridge) for years and this material has provided me with confidence in my current workflow, tips on how I can refine my workflow to become more efficient, and given me actionable stepping stones to move up to the next level. Thank you!


Gagh! Amazing! This is a fast paced class but the topics he teaches will change how I edit my photos. Great class! If you want to make your pictures pop and understand how to use color and tone....get this class!

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