Outdoor scenes often appear less impressive on the computer than they did through the viewfinder, and the problem never seems to be better colors and contrast than we remember. The opposite is usually true, which is why most photographers edit their work.
There are a myriad of factors contributing to dull photos, ranging from incorrect camera settings and poor light, to neglecting an appropriate filter or lens hood that could make a big difference. Regardless of the cause, today’s Photoshop tutorial will enable you to give images a big boost for realistic eye-popping results.
German landscape pro Christian Mohrle admits that, “when it comes to colors and contrast, it’s all about personal taste.” We tend to agree, but it’s rare that photographers prefer drab images to those with more vibrant tones.
In the video below, Mohrle walks you through his step-by-step method for achieving strong foreground colors and bold blue skies, while adding contrast to bring attention to the clouds. Near the end of the episode he also demonstrates how to clean up sensor spots and other minor distractions for a really nice final image.
Mohrle always begins by selecting the best camera profile for the image at hand. In this case he chooses Adobe Standard for reasons he explains. Because his exposure already looks pretty good, he limits his basic Raw adjustments to enhancing whites for better contrast, as well a bit of dehaze.
The magic of this episode occurs when Mohrle turns to local adjustments for enhancing specific portions of the scene, as he uses a mask to adjust color temperature and eliminate a purple cast in the sky. He then employs a linear gradient to emphasize the foreground, for a sharper look with increased texture.
All that’s left is some quick-and-easy color grading, subtle split toning to add warmth to the highlights and midtones, and a bit of cleanup with Photoshop’s Spot Healing brush.
If you find this video helpful, you can find many more by visiting Mohrle’s YouTube channel.
And be sure to check out another Photoshop tutorial we posted, explaining the best way to improve landscape photos with luminosity masks,