Editing Landscape Photos in Lightroom
Watch the video tutorial above to see how we edit our own landscape photos.
This is a very basic process. We’re not going too crazy – pushing the limits with our editing here. It’s very naturalistic.
My Steps to Editing Landscape Photos
First things first, adjust your photo’s crop so you’re only editing what you want in your final image.
Exposure / Contrast
Next, adjust the exposure. Typically for landscapes, this means dropping the highlights and whites to bring down an overexposed sky, and bringing up the darks and blacks to brighten an underexposed landscape.
Use the basic sliders and tone curve to add the amount of contrast you want. I usually like my landscape photos a bit more contrasty – which also increases the saturation.
White Balance & Presence
Experiment with sliding the white balance slider left and right to see if you like a warmer or blue-ish style. Don’t go too crazy though! If you’re trying to make the sky look more blue, use one of the following tools – not just overall white balance.
I typically add a bit of clarity to landscapes – around 15-30. I also add vibrance and/or saturation depending on if there are people in the shot. With people in the shot, I only use vibrance.
Hue / Saturation / Luminance
With the HSL panel, I can edit specific colors in my photo. This is where I boost the saturation and drop the luminance of blue skies. I also might boost greens or yellows depending on if my photo is of plants (where I boost greens) or more rock/dirt (where I boost yellow and orange).
I usually leave the hues alone, unless I want to get a bit funky.
Graduated and Brush Adjustments
After playing with all the other basic settings, now it’s time to localize our edits.
Using a graduated filter, we can really make our skies pop – adding contrast, saturation, and using the dehaze slider to make things clearer.
You can also use a graduated filter to increase the sharpness and detail of your landscapes. I usually don’t sharpen skies, as it adds unnecessary digital noise.
I’ll use an adjustment brush to do specific exposure adjustments such as bringing up the darks in a small part of the image.
Sharpening and Noise Reduction
Depending on the camera, I usually add a bit of noise reduction to soften out the image’s digital noise.
I’ll stick with Lightroom’s standard sharpening settings for RAW images which are automatically applied.
Lastly, I check to see what enabling lens corrections looks like. This usually decreases the natural vignette and warp of my lens. But I often leave this box unchecked because I like the natural look of my lens.
That’s basically it! Using these tools should make your landscape photos stand out from the crowd.
My biggest advice is to be careful about going too far with any of the sliders.
As my buddy Sam says, take a break from editing, walk away, and come back to see what your photo looks like with fresh eyes… before posting online.
Like this tutorial?
Want to learn more about landscape photography?
Enroll in our full landscape photography course where you’ll go behind the scenes with us for a trip to Joshua Tree – shooting from sunrise to sunset. Plus you’ll get 10+ more landscape editing tutorials.