Give Travel & Nature Photos Spectacular Golden-Hour Light with These Easy Editing Tips (VIDEO)

by John Stapel

Making great images is often about being in the right place at the right time. But that’s not always possible depending upon where you live, where you’re going, and the degree to which Mother Nature cooperates.

Most outdoor photographers know that Golden Hour can be the best time to capture beautiful travel and landscape images, but what if you arrive at your destination at the “wrong” time of day or when the light is boring? In the tutorial below you’ll see how to give uninspiring photos a magical Golden Hour look.

German photographer Christian Mohrle reveals his simple method for accomplishing the task, using both Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop. By following his advice you be able to imbue dull images with rich vibrant tones, and you can also use this method in Lightroom if that’s the software you prefer.

Mohrle begins by carefully cropping the image to refine the composition and eliminate “unnecessary” and distracting elements for clean, simple framing. As always, he then selects a camera profile for the specific photo at hand—in this case Adobe Standard.

Now it’s time for a few basic global enhancements that include adjusting white balance for warmer tones, dropping highlights to reveal more details in the sky, and pushing the shadows while decreasing the blacks for contrast.  Because his goal is a sharp look, Mohrle adds texture and some vibrance to intensify the colors.

Mohrle then darkens the sky using a linear gradient, and adds a subtle glow to the right side of the image with a radial gradient. The next task is precise color grading, and here Mohrle increases the reds, cuts blues and greens, and boosts the yellow and orange tones.

All that remains to finish the jobs are a few quick tweaks in Photoshop. We think you’ll agree that his final result is both stunning and realistic.

There is more shooting and editing advise on Mohrle’s YouTube channel, so be sure and take a look. And check out another tutorial we posted recently, explaining how a different approach to editing nature and wildlife photos will deliver stunning results.