This week's winning image comes from Photographer Daniel Nordholm. It's a stunning landscape image that he captured in Lofoten, a beautiful archipelago in Norway. I was very excited to break from my norm of beauty and fashion retouching to tackle and share a landscape retouch. Many of the techniques and the workflow of a landscape can be very different from portrait retouching, while the philosophy can be quite the same. In this article, you will see the full retouch of the image in the short two-minute video. In all, the retouch took about an hour. I will also share some specific techniques for landscape editing that you can use in your images as well.
I want to quickly remind you all that ANYONE can submit their image in the comments below for a chance to get their image retouched by me for free and to be featured in next week's "Retouching Monday," Here are some of the submission guidelines:
• Any genre of image is acceptable: Fashion, Beauty, Landscape, Art, Portrait, Etc.
• Post your image in the comments below and tell me a little bit about it.
• Submit by midnight on Wednesday of this week.
• If your image is not selected, you MAY submit it again.
• Check back on Fstoppers to see if you were selected on Thursday and Friday.
• It helps if you leave an email.
I will leave a comment with my email address on your image on Fstoppers if you are selected, so you can email the raw file. If you are able to leave your email address in the comments, please do, but if no,t please check back on the article to see if you have been selected.
The philosophy of a landscape retouch mirrors that of a beauty or portrait image in that you start by giving attention to each specific area. Each section of the image and each element will require their very own retouching to get them where they need to be. So, just like a model's hair, cheek, forehead, jawline, etc. will need individual editing, the sections of this image: the water, sky, mountain, and foreground rocks need their own individual attention and editing.
It's also important to keep moving. Edit the area, move to the next, and then come back to the first area. By continuing to move and not getting stuck in one area, you are more likely to not go overboard on one particular section and have it look very different from the rest.
You will notice in the video that I start with adjusting exposure and luminance in each section. But also, a lot of time is spent with color grading each element separately before doing global adjustments.
A Landscape Retouching Tip
Here is a Photoshop technique that I like to use when retouching landscapes that may be very different from other genres of retouching. The process centers around the "Apply Image" function in Photoshop.
Apply Image can be found by going to the "Image" menu and selecting "Apply Image." Apply Image will create a copy of the image you have on-screen, not too different from creating a stamp visible layer. The magic of Apply Image comes when you apply it to a mask. A mask will only accept grayscale values, so the result is a grayscale version of your image. When this is applied to an adjustment like a Curves layer, it becomes a very powerful tool.
So, using Apply Image in normal mode will create a mask the reveals the lights and masks out the darks while giving a gradation that will also affect midtones accordingly. You can also add a second Curves adjustment while using Apply Image, but while selecting the "Invert" option so that the darks are white on the mask, meaning they will get affected by the mask, while the lighter areas are masked out.
Why is this so useful? Well, you can now edit the shadow areas of your image and the highlight areas completely independently of each other. Landscape images present a particular challenge because the strength of the lighter areas can greatly vary in the image and the density of shadows from one area to another can also vary greatly.
There's really only one thing in my opinion that requires attention and that is the small elements on the land section of the horizon lines. The small houses and man-made elements can be easily removed with fundamental retouching tools like the healing brush and clone stamp.
The other thing to consider would be the color toning. I consider color toning to be adding a color adjustment globally to my image and color grading to be creating selective color and value adjustments to change the appearance of the image. At this point I would leave the color grading as is, but adjusting the color toning is something that can be done to taste. For instance, adding more magenta to the highlights or green to the midtones could change the general color aesthetic of the image. You could spend hours just experimenting with color and with multiple beautiful results; it all depends on personal taste.