Workflow for Landscape Photography

The great thing about photographing landscapes is that you don’t have to worry about your subject not smiling or looking at the camera.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t improvements that can be made after the fact in post-processing.

Though some photographers poo-poo the idea of manipulating your photos in post, I’m of the school of thought that doing some light editing to enhance the look of your photos is no different than what we did in darkrooms long ago.

The problem is that programs like Photoshop can be on the overwhelming side, with hundreds of features and functions for your editing pleasure.

Fortunately, Joshua Cripps of Professional Photography Tips has put together a quick, yet effective 5-minute landscape photography workflow for landscapes. See it in action in the video below, and read about each step of the process in the text that follows.

If you aren’t shooting in RAW, you should be. And if you aren’t editing your RAW files in Adobe Camera RAW before importing them into Photoshop, you should be doing that too!

RAW files retain all the data that your camera’s sensor collects, so there’s a lot more information to work with than with a JPEG.

In looking at the image above, you can see how it’s underexposed.

Using Adobe Camera RAW adjustments allows you to increase the exposure level, work on the highlights and shadows, adjust the whites and blacks, and manipulate the clarity, vibrance, and saturation too.

After making all those adjustments, you can see how much the image is already improved. But Camera RAW has other functions that allow you to further prep your image for Photoshop.

Opening the tone curve panel, you can adjust the highlights and shadows to add some contrast to the scene, which helps it look more dynamic and less flat.

Another neat function in Camera RAW is the ability to add a graduated filter effect to the shot.

In the field, a graduated neutral density filter darkens the sky and has little to no effect on the foreground. The purpose, of course, being to even out the exposure levels between the foreground and background.

Making that adjustment in Camera RAW has a similar effect by selected an area of the image to work on, as seen above.

Once you do that, you can manipulate shadows, highlights, saturation, vibrance, and so on in that specific area.

In the lens correction panel, there’s another neat trick you can use to enhance your photos: vignetting.

In this case, adding a slight vignette effect darkens the edges of the frame just enough such that the sun-kissed features of the sky and the mountains stand out a bit more.