Lightroom has all the features needed to professionally edit landscape photos. From color correction to advanced light adjustments, you can do a lot. In this tutorial, I’ll be sharing five tips for landscape photographers, or those who occasionally shoot landscapes and want to improve their edits.
Some important things to note before editing. How you shoot your photo can make editing immensely easier. It also will ultimately help set you apart to take the best photos possible. These are the most common mistakes I find in my landscape photos:
– Improper exposure, exposure compensation, and poor use of light sources
– Blurred focus due to shaking, movement, or low shutter speed and not paying attention
– Poor framing which makes it hard to crop and get a great photo (story)
– Bad angle or approach to a photo
– Bad quality due to noise, too much ISO, other technical issues like auto-focusing issues
– Bad quality due to settings (IE: not shooting RAW, low resolution, etc.)
These are all avoidable and mainly come from experience. Sometimes, I’m in too much of a rush when taking photos and that can lead to some or a lot of the issues above. Landscape photography requires patience and determination. You also have to be willing to hike challenging trails sometimes! It isn’t always an easy journey. :)
Without further delay, here are my five tips for better landscape photos in Lightroom. Use these adjustments to improve your landscape and outdoor photography edits. What is your favorite technique in Lightroom for nature photos?
1. Lens Corrections, Details
I like to start with the lens corrections settings and cropping. In the Develop Panel open up the Lens Corrections tab and choose both ‘Remove Chromatic Aberration’ and ‘Enable Profile Corrections’. As long as you shot the photo in RAW, Lightroom should recognize the lens, but if they don’t automatically you can choose from a drop-down list for the Make, Model, and Profile.
Removing chromatic aberration helps get rid of the red/purple fraying of the light. It’s not always necessary, but typically helps to make the light look more natural.
Cropping images could have an entire article dedicated to itself, but in this tutorial I’ll just share a couple areas I focus on when cropping my landscape photos.
First and foremost I like to straighten the photo and ensure the horizon is aligned.
Next I zoom in 100% to see the details and ensure everything look good. If there are any issues, I readjust the rotation of the crop here. Then I tighten up the crop a bit based on the photo and the details I want in the final edit. After some adjustments, my final crop looks like this:
2. Basic Light Fixes
Once all the lens corrections and cropping adjustments are complete, it’s time to move on to the lighting. The most important steps here are to fix overexposure and dark shadows, and reveal all the details in the photo. Another important reason for shooting RAW.
Open up the Basic tab in the Develop Module and start by adjusting Highlights, Shadows, and Clarity/Saturation. I always reduce the highlights for daytime photos and focus on bringing back details by increasing the shadows. I bump up the Clarity to around 10-20 and bump up vibrance/saturation to around 10/5 respectively. If you want more saturation, this is where you can start. You can also increase the contrast to add more intensity to your edit, but I like it a bit more neutral.
Now it’s time to move on to the Curves. This can dramatically boost the colors, while also playing with the light/shadows. I typically will create an S shaped curve, but it varies based on the edit. Adjust the settings to your liking based on time of day, how intense you want the colors to be, and the way the shade and light looks.
Once I add the Tone Curve, I usually have to go back and fix the light/saturation settings a bit because it can increase them dramatically. After drawing my Curve, I changed these light settings.
4. Color Adjustments
Playing with colors, my favorite part! At this point, I make HSL adjustments to my photo to really bring out the colors, and sometimes even change the hue/saturation of them.
Start with the Saturation. Open up your HSL/Color tab and select Saturation, then increase the saturation for the colors you want to bring out in your photo. In this case for me it’s greens, blues, and some yellows/orange.
After seeing the boosted greens, I noticed the hue of the green was a bit overpowering and I wanted some more yellow in there. So next, I moved on to the Hue tab and slightly bumped down the yellow/green to change the hue a bit.
And that covers the majority of the light adjustments I make. If you want more color, you can use Split Toning and the Red/Green/Blue variations of the Tone Curve, but this can change the natural colors of the image so I tend to avoid these edits. After making the HSL adjustments, here’s what the edit looks like:
5. Advanced Details & Adjustments
I usually don’t have many other adjustments left after finishing the color on my landscape edits, but there are a few things you should consider at this point of your process.
1. Are there any dust or noise issues to correct?
2. Do I need to remove any blemishes or spots with the Spot Removal tool?
3. Are there any issues with the color or light that need to be fixed before final export?
4. Do I need to adjust sharpness or crop?
When taking a final look at my image, I noticed something that looked a bit off. When adjusting the HSL settings and increasing the blue Saturation, it added a lot of blue into the trees. I wanted to increase the blue for the skies, but the trees don’t look as natural anymore. So how do you fix this?
The fix is pretty simple! Use brushes in Lightroom. Originally I tried the graduated filter. The graduated filter works kind of like a gradient. For my edit I tried to use it from the left side of the image to fix the discolored trees and add some yellow/warmth.
As you can see, it adds some warmth to the brush/evergreen trees in my image too and makes it look kind of odd with the rest of the scenery.
You can play with this depending on the type of photos you take. If you want a more targeted approach, use Adjustment Brushes. Then you can paint exactly where you want the effect. I originally tried the graduated filter for this edit, but didn’t like how it looked with the trees. It’s not easy to get small adjustments looking natural when it comes to editing landscapes. See how off it looks to the left?
Finally after back and forth, I ended up painting adjustments on just the two overly blue trees using an Adjustment Brush with yellow temp and green tint.
After all the adjustments and going through the five steps of Lens Corrections/Cropping, Basic Light Fixes, Curves, Color, and Advanced Details here is my final edit!
Related: Landscape Lightroom Presets
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial for advanced landscape editing in Lightroom. Check out more of my landscape photography on Instagram.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below! How do you get the perfect landscape edits in Lightroom?
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See the final before/after comparison. Share on Pinterest!