Do not under­stand why your evening land­scape, tak­en on the sea coast, looks worse in the pho­to than some­one else’s sun­set shot from the win­dow of an apart­ment in a res­i­den­tial area? It’s very sim­ple — you also need to learn post-pro­cess­ing. Many begin­ners under­es­ti­mate the impor­tance of this action, but by learn­ing a few sim­ple tricks, you will sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve the qual­i­ty of your shots. To achieve good results in land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy, you will be helped by the image pro­cess­ing rec­om­men­da­tions that we have pre­pared for you.

Pho­to: pixabay.com

1. We shoot taking into account future processing

This advice is not so much about post-pro­cess­ing, but about the shoot­ing process. When pho­tograph­ing an object, think over every­thing so that lat­er you have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to cor­rect the image using a graph­ic edi­tor.

Land­scape pho­tos have a high dynam­ic range, so shoot in RAW. In this case, when pro­cess­ing, you will be able to restore max­i­mum details in shad­ows and light, and this is impor­tant for any land­scape. The matri­ces of mod­ern cam­eras are designed in such a way that it is much eas­i­er to restore graph­ic infor­ma­tion from shad­ows than from over­ex­posed areas. That is why it is bet­ter to shoot land­scapes with a reduced expo­sure so that when post-pro­cess­ing from a RAW file, the nec­es­sary details can be pulled out of the shad­ows.

2. Remove unnecessary details from the frame

Your land­scape can be spoiled by a lot of unnec­es­sary objects acci­den­tal­ly caught in the frame: your own shad­ow, specks on the lens, pow­er line wires, a leaf falling from a tree, and so on. All this can be removed with a tool called “Stamp” (Stamp), which is in Pho­to­shop. With the right skill, it can do won­ders for clear­ing entire hous­es or trees that you don’t think fit into the frame.

The Stamp works very sim­ply. You need to select it from the tool­bar on the left, adjust the brush size, trans­paren­cy, degree of pres­sure and oth­er para­me­ters. Next, man­u­al­ly set the area from which the infor­ma­tion will be copied (by press­ing Ctrl) and paint over the unnec­es­sary area.

With a stamp, you can not only remove unnec­es­sary details, but also clone any objects. For exam­ple, in this pic­ture, one bird has turned into a flock. Pho­to before pro­cess­ing: pixabay.com

3. We build the right composition

Com­po­si­tion is some­thing that can be eas­i­ly cor­rect­ed in post-pro­duc­tion. The main thing is that the pic­ture cov­ers a wide enough area so that it can be cropped. Nature does not tol­er­ate sym­me­try — if the land­scape in your pic­ture is divid­ed in half by the hori­zon line, it will look sta­t­ic, life­less and unin­ter­est­ing. This is a com­mon com­po­si­tion mis­take and is easy to fix.

The fin­ished pic­ture is easy to adjust using the crop­ping func­tion, which is avail­able even in the sim­plest graph­ic edi­tors. First, deter­mine which area you want to focus on. Imag­ine which of the areas of the pic­ture will look more advan­ta­geous. For con­ve­nience, you can over­lay a 3 x 3 grid on the pho­to to place the key object at one of the inter­sec­tion points of the lines. After com­pos­ing prop­er­ly, crop the pic­ture.

You can make sev­er­al options, then com­pare them. Ana­lyze mis­takes, and you will learn how to avoid them even at the shoot­ing stage. Although even pro­fes­sion­als often resort to crop­ping their shots, this is nor­mal.

4. Leveling the exposure

Begin­ners usu­al­ly shoot in man­u­al ISO and aper­ture mode. In this case, the cam­era auto­mat­i­cal­ly deter­mines the expo­sure and shut­ter speed, tak­ing into account the entered expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion (you can read more about this here). If you miss the sen­si­tiv­i­ty when shoot­ing land­scapes, the frame will be over­ex­posed (ISO too high) or under­ex­posed (ISO low). In the sec­ond case, and sub­ject to the avail­abil­i­ty of a RAW file, the sit­u­a­tion is eas­i­ly cor­rect­ed in the post-pro­cess­ing process.

When cor­rect­ing the expo­sure of a land­scape that is ini­tial­ly too dark, you need to grad­u­al­ly light­en the frame. If there is a sky in the pho­to, you need to focus on it so that it does not turn out to be illu­mi­nat­ed — a white or gray spot.

To cor­rect the expo­sure in Pho­to­shop, select Image -> Adjust­ments -> Expo­sure from the tool­bar. A win­dow will open with three options: Expo­sure, Shift, and Gam­ma Cor­rec­tion. By chang­ing the posi­tion of the slid­ers, you can achieve the desired result by bright­en­ing the dark­ened areas or vice ver­sa. Screen­shot of the author

5. Use presets

This is a good way to refine the land­scape with­out com­plex mul­ti-stage manip­u­la­tions. Pre­sets, that is, ready-made sets of set­tings (pop­u­lar­ly, fil­ters for pho­tos), are also con­ve­nient to use when batch pro­cess­ing images, although in this case the result is not always pre­dictable. To work with land­scapes, the Light­room graph­ic edi­tor is suit­able, in which there are many built-in pre­sets, and you can also add options found on the Inter­net to them. Pho­to­shop also has ready-made options for col­or cor­rec­tion set­tings, but they are few­er and less con­ve­nient to work with.

With the right use of pre­sets in the process of edit­ing land­scapes, you can save a lot of time and achieve bet­ter results than with man­u­al set­tings, if you do not have enough expe­ri­ence in graph­ic edi­tors.

6. We carry out color correction

One of the most com­mon mis­takes in land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy is wrong col­ors. If they don’t look the way you intend­ed, you need to adjust the sat­u­ra­tion set­tings. You just need to do this wise­ly, oth­er­wise the lack of flow­ers will turn into an over­abun­dance of them, and the land­scape will look unnat­ur­al.

Pho­to­shop has many fea­tures for col­or cor­rec­tion. There are basic adjust­ments and more sub­tle adjust­ments to change the sat­u­ra­tion of indi­vid­ual objects or areas in the frame. If you wish, you can turn the red tulip into pink, and the green leaves on the trees into yel­low. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less, but it all takes the right skill.

To open the sat­u­ra­tion set­tings in Pho­to­shop, you need to select “Image” -\u003e “Cor­rec­tion” -\u003e “Hue / Sat­u­ra­tion” in the main menu at the top (or sim­ply press the key com­bi­na­tion Ctrl + U). Screen­shot of the author

7. We place accents

This task is some­what more dif­fi­cult than the pre­vi­ous ones. The main thing is to focus on the fore­ground, mak­ing it brighter. A gra­di­ent with a pos­i­tive expo­sure will help achieve this effect. This is where Pho­to­shop comes in handy again.

To make the land­scape look more volu­mi­nous, you need to slight­ly dark­en the mid­dle plan. You can use a dark­en­ing brush for this, or apply two inter­sect­ing gra­di­ents: one dark from the upper left cor­ner (for exam­ple, to make the sky and grass less vis­i­ble), and the sec­ond — light. As a result, a dark­en­ing strip with soft, blurred bor­ders is formed. The brush makes it eas­i­er to focus on small objects or dark­en unnec­es­sary ones that should not be dis­tract­ing.

8. Making colors more harmonious

This is not the same as col­or cor­rec­tion, but a slight­ly more tricky tech­nique. In this case, there are no spe­cif­ic instruc­tions or rules. Make adjust­ments to your lik­ing to make the col­ors look nat­ur­al. The most com­mon com­bi­na­tion is based on con­trast — use shades that are oppo­site each oth­er on the col­or wheel, such as blue and yel­low. Accord­ing­ly, pic­tures dom­i­nat­ed by con­trast­ing pairs always look brighter and more advan­ta­geous.

To make the frame “warmer”, increase the yel­low, pur­ple or orange hues in the fore­ground. In Pho­to­shop, you need to use the col­or bal­ance set­tings for this: “Image” -\u003e “Cor­rec­tion” -\u003e “Col­or Bal­ance” (or just Ctrl + B). Screen­shot of the author

9. Converting a photo to b/w

Prop­er­ly done black and white shots always look styl­ish. By con­vert­ing a land­scape pho­to to b/w, you can show the envi­ron­ment in a way that no one sees it. This tech­nique makes the pic­ture more roman­tic, min­i­mal­is­tic or atmos­pher­ic, depend­ing on the com­po­si­tion and cor­rec­tion.

Of course, you can try to imme­di­ate­ly shoot in b/w, using the pos­si­bil­i­ties of tech­nol­o­gy, but this is not nec­es­sary. It is much more con­ve­nient to sub­se­quent­ly turn col­or pho­tographs into black and white.

10. Get rid of highlights

Good light­ing is the key to suc­cess in many sit­u­a­tions, includ­ing land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy. But even it will not save if the cam­era is not con­fig­ured cor­rect­ly. Over­cast shots can be very dark, while sun­ny shots can be over­ex­posed. The cor­rect post-pro­cess­ing will cor­rect the sit­u­a­tion, with the help of which you can adjust the tone, the radius of the glow or dark­en­ing, as well as set the inten­si­ty of the effect cre­at­ed.

In Pho­to­shop, the eas­i­est way to remove high­lights is through Image -> Adjust­ments -> Shadows/Highlights. A small win­dow will open with two slid­ers and a check­mark, which will dis­play addi­tion­al options. With these adjust­ments, the nec­es­sary adjust­ments are made to remove the over­ex­posed areas. Screen­shot of the author

That’s all the basic tech­niques for post-pro­cess­ing view­points. If you’re into land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy and want to cap­ture beau­ti­ful shots in any con­di­tions, we also sug­gest tak­ing a look at our tips for shoot­ing over­cast con­di­tions.


От Yara

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