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A few of you have asked how I make my landscape images 'pop'. There are lots of different tools, advice and views on what makes a good image and even more on how to process one - it's art, it's subjective and really, it's up to you.
This post is about showing how you can quickly take creative control of your images. To do this you must, in my opinion, shoot RAW - file sizes are bigger but so too are the results!
The first thing to do is frame your composition and then decide on the type of image you want, in this case I shot for a long exposure and deliberately underexposed by approximately 1 stop to get the sky streaking and water smooth - it's dark isn't it? But that's ok because I shot in RAW which preserves all the data recorded by the camera's sensor. It does have a downside though, the image always looks flat and boring in RAW as you can see:
Settings were F10 ISO100 and 107 Seconds using a 10 Stop Neutral Density Filter - the slight colour cast is caused by my filter and me not having bought the ExpoDisc.
Step 1: Enable Lens Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberrations - this corrects for lens distortion and removes fringing on high contrast areas of the image (that horrible Green/Purple halo you sometimes see in images).
Step 2: Adjust White Balance and Expose the image as you want and use the Tone Curve to get the depth and feel you like - small tweaks are better than large changes. Follow the sliders in order and then go back to the start and tweak some more. You will develop a 'feel' for what's working and what's not.
Step 3: Adjust HSL (Hue/Saturation/Luminance) - in this case, I added a little more blue saturation to make the water pop.
Step 4: Remove dust spots. This was shot using a Nikon D610 - they have a fault that causes small oil spots to be thrown on the sensor, but dust, oils, grease from your fingers on the lens can all make spots - so clean up! Lightroom has a handy feature called 'Visualise Spots' or you can just press 'O' when you are in the Spot Removal tool. Handy hint: make sure you feather the edge to make your healing invisible.
What are all those little circles? Spots! You can also see on the top left of the image a flag getting in shot - I will clone this out at the end of the process.
Step 5: Sharpen (about 80 works well) and remove noise (it's called Luminance - set to about 20) this will give your image a crisp clean feel that will print beautifully.
So, for a basic edit that's it. Take it right in the camera and the processing will be easy.
But I don't want to pay a subscription!
One of my main bugbears is that Lightroom and Photoshop now require a monthly subscription which although around £9 is, I think a fair whack for any photographer starting out on this amazing hobby/passion/job.
One of the best alternatives is by Skylum Software: Luminar 2018 (https://skylum.com/luminar), it does an amazing job. It has this funky Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool that takes the hard work out of processing for you. I re-ran the processing using Luminar and made 4 adjustments - Levels & Clarity and then I used the 'Accent AI' filter and the 'AI Sky Enhancer' the result.... Smart huh?!
And that's a wrap. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch. I am going to blog about my gear, on location lighting and portrait photography in the near future - let me know if you want a specific blog on a photographic subject.
If you are interested in buying any equipment or software mentioned in my blog posts, please follow my Amazon Affiliate Links - I only promote gear that works and I am proud to use - I am not sponsored by any of these product makers but I may make a small commission if you decide to buy which helps me pay the bills!
My Gear - Cameras and Glass (its all about the glass):
-- Nikon D610 - Its an ok Full Frame camera but I wish I bought the Nikon D750 with the sweet 24-120mm F4 lens - Buy it Here!
-- Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 - The work horse, build like a tank and the best telephoto glass you can buy.
-- Nikon 50mm F1.8 - Amazing portrait and general photography lens - it matches what the human eye can see so its a wonderful walkabout and travel lens.
-- Nikon 85mm F1.8 - My go to portrait lens - I love shooting with this lens.
Lighting and Useful Bits and Bobs:
-- Lights to follow - I use Godox AD400 and Godox AD200 and the Nikon SB-700.
--- Expodisc 2.0 - If I could buy 1 accessory this would be it - the perfect tool to get white balance right every time! Buy it Here!
-- Lightroom and Photoshop
Skylum Luminar - the best software without a subscription to get you started. Buy it Here!