Photography is all about light, and the challenge doesn’t end with achieving a correct exposure in the camera. This is particularly true when shooting outdoors under less-than-ideal lighting conditions.
In the tutorial below from our friends at Phlog Photography you’ll learn how to “shape light” in Photoshop and give a bland image a very dramatic look. German landscape photographer Christian Mohrle is one of our favorite instructors, and he explains how to get the job done in barely 10 minutes.
As always, Mohrle provides a link to his demonstration image in the description beneath the video, so you can follow along and make the changes yourself. As you’ll see, he begins with a striking mountain scene, but his photo is washed out. Mohrle’s goal is to enhance the light by adding contrast, brightening highlights, selectively darkening portions of the image, and adding a bit of glow. The first step is switching the profile to Adobe Landscape, which immediately gives the photo more saturation.
Next come several basic global adjustments to the image. Mohrle adjusts White Balance by warming up color temperature, and further bumping up highlights and whites. He also drops the overall exposure to darken the image.
Now the meat of the tutorial begins, as Mohrle turns to masks and gradients to shape the light to his liking. He employs a mask over the sky, a linear gradient over shadows in the foreground, and a second linear gradient to further drop exposure in the sky.
All that’s left to complete the transformation is some simple color grading. Mohrle turns to the HSL panel to adjust yellow and blue saturation. He then employs split-toning to warm up highlights and midtones while adding more blue tones to the shadows. We think you’ll be very impressed when you compare the before/after images.
You can find more great tips for editing outdoor photos by visiting Mohrle’s YouTube channel.
And don’t miss the tutorial we posted recently from another pro, with nine great ideas for shooting fantastic fall photos.