A Beginner's Guide to Transforming Your Landscape Photos with Simple Editing Techniques

Landscape photography can be tricky, especially when your raw files look flat compared to what you see with your eyes. Understanding how to process these files can turn your photos from dull to stunning.

Coming to you from William Patino, this insightful video provides a simple but effective workflow for processing landscape raw files in Lightroom and Photoshop. Patino addresses the common frustration where phone photos seem better than those from expensive cameras due to built-in algorithms that instantly edit photos. By processing your raw files manually, you can achieve much more dynamic and detailed results. This workflow is designed to help you bring out the colors, details, and depth in your photos, making them look as vibrant as the scene you captured.

Patino begins by showing a recent sunset scene from Milford Sound, emphasizing how dark and flat the raw file looks compared to the real scene. The initial step involves opening the file in Photoshop's Camera Raw or Lightroom. Patino develops a game plan to brighten the image, bring back colors, and create depth by manipulating the brights and darks. This method is crucial for achieving a three-dimensional feel in your photos, making distant elements appear further back while enhancing the foreground.

Next, Patino demonstrates how to adjust the exposure globally to lift all tones evenly, followed by local adjustments to refine specific areas. He highlights the importance of using the brush tool for local adjustments, such as darkening the sky to direct the viewer’s eye to the center or brightening specific parts of the image to enhance details. This approach helps maintain the natural look of atmospheric perspective, which is often lost in raw files.

One key aspect of Patino's workflow is color grading. He explains how to use the color panel and grading tools to enhance the natural color contrast in your photos. By warming the highlights and cooling the shadows, you can create a more visually appealing image. Patino also discusses the importance of subtle adjustments, using tools like the dehaze slider to enhance mid-tone contrast without affecting the overall exposure too much. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Patino.

And if you really want to dive into landscape photography, check out our latest tutorial, "Photographing the World: Japan With Elia Locardi!" 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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