You go to a hill station or sea shore and capture a sunset scene or colorful landscape with blue skies. When you check out the photos you’ve shot, you may find that they aren’t as colorful and vibrant as they looked in person. Some of the common problems that take away the beauty from landscape shots are lack of dynamic range, overexposed skies, incorrect colors, tilted horizon, yellowish vegetation instead of deep green, and so on.
The image sensors and image processing engines vary between models. Hence, a scene shot with one digital camera might look striking and the same scene shot with another model may look drab. The most challenging task for digital cameras is to capture maximum dynamic range along with accurate colors and details. This means optimal exposure of both bright areas (such as skies), less bright areas (such as land and vegetation), and dark areas. In this hands-on guide, we show you how you can give your landscape photos that magic touch and transform them into vibrant postcard-quality shots using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
Step 1: Overall Exposure and Contrast
First import the photo into the Library, go to the Develop module and load the picture into the workspace. If your photos are under or overexposed, adjust the Tone of the image by tinkering with the Exposure, Fill light, Brightness and Contrast sliders. The colors can be enhanced by adjusting the Vibrance and the Saturation sliders under the Presence group. The Black level adjustment also helps in enhancing the contrast by deepening the blacks. Take care not to overdo any function; that will make your photo look very unrealistic. You can use the Auto mode to see what the application suggests and apply the recommended values. Actions can be undone by pressing [Ctrl]+Z.
Step 2: White Balance Correction
This function can be used to reduce blue or orange cast in photos or be used creatively for enhancing the sky. Use the Temperature slider under White Balance for cooler or warmer tones. The trick here is to spot an element in the frame that is supposed to be white and then adjust the temperature to remove the unwanted color cast and restore the whiteness. In this picture, the point of reference is the clouds. Note that the sky looks bluer and the trees look greener in effect.
Step 3: Enhancing the Skies
To make the sky look better, first correct the exposure of the sky and then adjust the color to change the tone and/or deepen the color. Use the Graduated filter (fourth icon under the Histogram) with the Effect set to Exposure. Drag the filter over the photo (top to bottom), selecting only the sky in the first half, and then adjust the Exposure slider. After you’re done, scroll down to the HSL section and adjust the Hue and Saturation of Blue to enhance the color of the sky.
Step 4: Enhancing Land and Vegetation
Use the Graduated filter, and this time, drag the filter from bottom to top selecting the vegetation. Use the sliders to adjust the exposure, contrast and saturation. Now scroll down to the HSL section. If the trees have an undesirable yellow tinge, move the yellow slider under Hue to the right to strengthen the green color. If the land is muddy, adjust the orange slider. Right-click on the image and use the Export function to save the final result.
And that's it, you're done!