Last Updated on October 27, 2018
Have you ever saw a photograph of an incredible landscape and wondered how they could pull off such a great image? How did they get the sky to look so dramatic and make everything look so sharp? Well, you’re in luck! You are about to learn some simple tips that the pros use in order get their landscape images to really pop.
Furthermore, if you use Adobe Lightroom, you already have all the tools you need to make your landscape photos stand out above the rest. These tips are quick, simple, and will really give you more creative control over your photography.
Let’s start with a photo as it looks straight out of the camera. The image below is the original RAW file before any edits are applied. You are about to learn how to go from this…
… to this in just a few quick and easy steps! Let’s get started!
The first thing you might notice is the the RAW image is a little crooked. So we are going to straighten the photo by using the crop tool located just above the Basic Panel.
There is also a slight amount of unwanted lens flare and the cropping will eliminate that also. Furthermore, cropping the image will improve the framing of the sunset and the mountains in the background.
Next, we’re going to go to work on making the sky really pop. One of the best tools a landscape photographer can use in Lightroom is the Neutral Density (ND) filter. It is located above the Basic Panel with the same row of tools as the crop option we used earlier. I want to give the clouds more contrast which will add interest and drama to the background.
After selecting the ND filter, click and drag from the top of the image to apply the tool. Everything above the line is where the edits will be applied.
Next, I decrease the exposure by -1.20 to darken the sky and then increase the contrast by +55 in order to really make the clouds stand out. That isn’t quite enough so I also increase the clarity by +50. Keep in mind that since we are selectively applying these edits, we can control exactly where they will go to work.
So don’t be afraid to adjust the location of the ND filter to get the exact effect you need.
Now that we have adjusted the sky in the background, let’s go to work on the foreground. Just as we used the ND filter to process the sky, we can now use a new filter to process the foreground so that we don’t interfere with our other edits made to the background. To make a new ND filter, simply click “New” at the top of the Neutral Density Filter Panel.
Currently, the foreground is a little underexposed and lacks a lot detail. To begin, I increase the exposure by +1.14. In addition to increasing the exposure I also want to bring up the highlights in the grass.
To do this, I raise the value of the highlights in the foreground by +5. Strengthening the foreground even further, I add +30 clarity and boost the sharpness by +40 to really bring out those details in the grass.
The last edits we will apply in this ND filter is a +40 increase in color saturation along with warming the colors by +20. The added warming of the foreground colors will really help to accent those golden hues of the setting sun.
This photo has already came a long way with just a few simple edits. We’re nearly finished but not quite yet!
Clicking “Done” in ND filter tool panel will return us back to the develop screen. The last thing we will do is apply some slight adjustments to the entire image to really give it a polished and professional look.
Scrolling down to the “Effects” panel, I will apply a very subtle vignette. This will really help to enhance the photo by drawing the viewer’s eye into the image.
To do this, drag the amount slider to -30. This is will add a very slight darkening to the perimeter of the frame. We don’t want to make the darkening too pronounced so I adjust the feathering to +70 just to soften the inside boundary of the vignetting.
And that’s it!
Improving your landscape photographs is easy and fast using Adobe Lightroom after you understand a few simple tricks. Follow the tips in this tutorial and you will be well on your way to making powerful landscape images just like the pros!