- Use your program’s product support and YouTube for tutorials
- Shoot RAW and pull out shadow detail
- Adjust colors subtly
- Crop for creative effect
- Sharpen and remove noise
- Use high-quality monitors for photo editing
- Save large files.
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Knowing how to edit a landscape photo creatively will bring your landscape photography images to the next level of quality and viewability.
Since there is such a variety of fine post-processing programs available, these landscape photography editing tips will concentrate on the creative aspect, leaving the actual mechanics of the specific operations for your program’s product support tutorials.
Post-Processing Tips for Landscape Photography
photo by ijeab via iStock
I will highlight seven different landscape photography editing tips to help you create the most impactful image:
Use Product Support Materials and YouTube Tutorials
Seriously, how many of us read the manuals for the equipment and programs we have? I know I have a problem with that, trusting my experience and instinct to get me through the basics. I’ve learned to make myself study, though. It’s easy, and it’s free!
Additionally, I schedule time to improve my knowledge and skills by accessing the many fine tutorials online for my stuff.
Some manufacturers have video tutorials, others are illustrated and printed word. YouTube is another source for high quality instruction. In order to make sure I don’t waste my time, I limit myself to following only highly rated channels.
A great example of a fine YouTube tutorial for photo editing is the video above by Photoshop Training Channel.
Shoot RAW for Shadow Detail
One of the most basic techniques for how to edit a landscape photo for better results is to shoot in RAW file mode and make sure not to blow out the highlights in the original exposure.
The reason this works is because RAW holds a lot more exposure detail, especially in the shadows, than the compressed files such as JPEG.
I still carefully check exposure to have the best in-camera image possible, exposing in such a way as to not blow out any important highlights. Generally speaking, you can pull out lots of shadow detail but overexposed highlight details are gone.
Get more details on the RAW vs JPEG debate in the video above by Adorama TV.
Subtly Adjust Colors
One of the biggest things some photographers object to concerning post-processing is the unnatural look and feel of some of the images they’ve seen. When discussing post-processing tips with anyone, I like to highlight the art of subtle changes.
Personally, I see nothing wrong with certain obvious effects when it results in an amazing image. What traps some beginners about post-processing is always trying to do those effects in a large way.
Many times, a slight tweak of a color or hue will give you outstanding results that have a natural look and feel while presenting your creative art and vision. Combined with pulling out shadow detail, such adjustments can take your photos to the next level
The video above by the Photoshop Training Channel walks you through the process of making the colors in your images really pop.
Your camera has an aspect ratio of either 3:2 for APS-C and Full Frame or 4:3 for the MFT format. This will print into common print sizes like 4X6” or 3X4” and the larger multipliers of those.
In order to print into the popular wall print sizes such as 16X20” or 24X30”, you are actually cropping to change the aspect ratio. Sometimes, we get into the habit of just cropping it down centered, but moving our crop box around in the image area might work out better for many images.
There are also uses for other crops, such as cropping to a square ratio for a classic feel or an ultra wide aspect ratio to give a panoramic feel to the image. Any cropping ratio you do, try out various parts of the image area before hitting the done button.
The video above by Live Snap Love gives you a detailed tutorial on cropping for maximum impact.
Sharpen / Remove Noise
Digital noise is similar to film grain for you old timers out there. It can be used creatively but many times for landscape photography, we are aiming for the clearest view in the final image. Most of the post-processing programs I am using have presets to remove noise, but you can also adjust the parameters as you see fit.
The sharpen tool is another nice control for subtly improving your final image. It won’t fix your out-of-focus problems, but it will smooth pixelated edges which can degrade image quality. I generally do both of these at the end of my workflow for whatever image I’m editing.
The video above by ACDSee offers tips on restoring old photos.
Use High-Quality Monitors
All of the above landscape photography editing tips rely on you being to clearly see exactly what you’re doing. So, using the best monitors is vitally important to bring your post-processing to the next level.
I have recently upgraded for both photo and video editing to a two monitor setup, using large, wide, curved screen monitors. The curved screens gives me an immersive editing experience and the larger, wider screen is useful for seeing all the subtle detail in my image files.
Using either of these monitors along with your laptop will also help you with your post-processing. I chose the ViewSonic VP3881 38” curved screen monitor and added the 34” ViewSonic VP3481 as well. If you will be adding one extra monitor the 38” gives a lot more image area to work with but the smaller 34” is also fantastic and is less expensive.
Some of the reasons I chose these monitors is the curved screen for a more immersive viewing experience, the ultra high resolution sharpness, excellent color (4.39 trillion colors displayed), and the ability to tile my windows for a better workflow.
Save Large Files
If I am using a post-processing program with nondestructive editing, the original RAW files I shot are still preserved and the edits are saved as program instructions. But, if I have to export that image or if I’m working with a different type of editing program, I will save as the largest file I can in the needed format.
So, for exporting to clients or a website or some printing companies, I will save as a JPEG with my default settings as the largest, highest quality file option. If I need to make smaller files, too, I will usually work from that JPEG and resize.
When I’m using a program without nondestructive editing, I will save first as an uncompressed TIFF, the largest size available. Then, I can convert to any size JPEG for exporting to clients. I hate losing any image detail or information unless I have a specific reason for it.
In the video at the beginning of this section, the folks at PHLEARN go into great detail on different file format types.
What’s the Next Next Level?
photo by shironosov via iStock
These landscape photography editing tips will take you from your already great results to the next level. Sometimes the tiniest improvement to your techniques, equipment, and skills will give your images an extra WOW factor that could result in increased income for pros and the satisfaction of seeing how fantastic your images have become.
So, what’s the next level from here, the next next level? The next level is to keep your improvements going. Each time I work on something, I find out something else I like or an idea emerges that I want to work on. Keep adding to your skill level and your creativity will be unleashed as well.