The 5 Commandments of Landscape Photography (Do These Or Fail)

The 5 Commandments of Landscape Photography (Do These Or Fail)

Now you’re recording yuupppp and this guy is recording too.

Okay. Starting to get a little bit cold, and I’m going to put on a beanie because I’m kinda old and scene! You’re very welcome for that, everybody.

 

It is a major challenge to be prescriptive with art, right? Whenever I’m teaching workshops and I get questions like, is this the best focal length to use or do I have the right shutter speed? Or is my horizon at the right level? The answer is almost always, it depends because, you know, unless I know exactly what you want to accomplish, I can’t unequivocally say, well, you should do specifically this and point your camera at that specific rock at this exact focal link with this exact shutter speed. There are so many subjective elements to art and to photography that it’s really hard to say, this is the right answer. And this is the wrong answer. However, I can say that there are five things that every single landscape photo needs to do in order to be successful. And if you don’t do these five things, your photo isn’t going to work. So I’m going to tell you what those are, how to accomplish them right now.

Greetings my excellent friends, it’s Josh Cripps here. Now with all of the different types of photos out there, you may be wondering what five things the best ones could possibly have in common. But the truth is it’s not about this specific settings they use or the kind of post-processing or even the time of day that they were shot. Instead. It’s about how the photographers approach the scene and how the photos they create accomplish very specific goals. So let’s get into it.

The best photos, tell stories and landscape photography is no different. Even if that story in a landscape photo is as simple as well, I went to this place and it was really cool and beautiful. And the things in this photo show you why I think that, and as it implies, it can’t be just any story of a place. It has to be your story of a place, not what somebody else thinks is cool or what you think you should compose based on the latest outdoor photographer article you read, or what trends are popular on Instagram, extreme framing. But what you specifically notice about a place I want to know what you see. This is the number one goal. Your photo must accomplish. It needs to tell your story, have a place at the moment that you are pressing the shutter. Okay. So how the crap do you do that? 

A good subject for a landscape photo. Honestly, it’s anything that catches your eye. So that could be anything that you find interesting or beautiful or engaging about the scene that you’re in, in a really easy test for. This is any time you catch yourself thinking, eh, that’s pretty cool. Well, then you have the potential for a good subject for your photograph. Now the big exception to this is light and clouds, and while they’re beautiful, they often aren’t distinctive enough to stand alone as the entirety of the story of your photo. Now, it’s also critical that your subject is something that you care about. And that’s just to say that the more your subject makes you feel an emotion, any emotion, really, whether it’s art or serenity or apprehension or joy, whatever it is, you just need to feel an emotion. The more that you feel that the more that you care about your subject, the more that you’re going to want to photograph it, you’re going to really engage with it and explore it and shoot it from all kinds of different angles until you really find out what makes that subject tick.

And the more that you do that, the more it’s going to draw your viewers in as well. So that’s why it’s important that you find something that you are interested in, something that you care about, something that makes you feel any emotion. Now, more than likely in any scene, there’s going to be a lot of interesting stuff that you’re drawn to. Of course. So what you need to do is just pick the most important two to four things, actual physical things in the scene, and then try to exclude everything else because a photo that contains everything that’s in a scene in front of you, it says a lot without actually saying anything. Instead, you should strive to show your viewer. What’s most important to you in any given scene. Now it’s okay to shoot many different photos to help tell a complete story of a place, but each individual photo should show. What’s so special. What’s most special to you about that particular moment, that particular scene. So that’s what you need to accomplish with your subject. You want to convey to your viewer. What’s most important to you in that particular moment, in that particular scene.

In order to be effective, the composition of your photo needs to show off the most interesting attributes of that subject of your photo. So if you’re looking at a mountain and you’re thinking, Holy crap, that thing is huge, but then you shoot an image like this with a super wide angle lens where the mountain is this tiny little pyramid in the background. Is that really telling the story? Is it really showing off the most compelling attributes of that subject or would a shot like this be more effective to demonstrate to your viewer what it is that you want to show off about mountain specifically how huge it is? You know, here’s another example. If you’ve already seen my video about story and composition and the way that they play together, basically these are two shots from Kings Canyon. And what I wanted to show off in this scene was the expansiveness of the sky.

And I could have shot a vertical like this, which is very engaging and it pulls the viewer in, but it feels very closed off. It doesn’t show that expansiveness of the scene, whereas the horizontal composition, which not only contains a broad swath of sky in the sky, but it also contains a broad swath of sky in the reflection. Basically, it’s giving you all this sky, it’s giving you the sense of endlessness, how this views in this space and go on forever. So that’s what I found interesting. That was the most compelling part of my subject. And that’s what I’m using my composition to convey in this photograph. So use your composition to show off the most interesting parts of your subject. All right. Number four, artistic camera technique.

And what I’m talking about here is basically your camera settings, the gear you use, and even things like timing, like when you press the shutter button now most photographers, when they hear camera technique or good camera technique, they’re thinking, okay, I gotta put my camera on a tripod and get a decent exposure, but good camera technique is about so much more than this because the truth is as an artist, what you are trying to achieve, what you’re striving for is to use your camera and your shooting technique in order to further show your viewer. What’s important about the scene that you’re photographing. So here I was photographing from the top of a Ridge line in Kings Canyon, national park, and I’d been hiking for quite some time under these fairly ominous skies and they kept threatening to drop a ton of rain. In fact, I could see the lightning, I could hear the thunder happening just over the Hill, essentially.

And I felt like at any minute, I’m going to get smacked by this storm and it’s going to be really uncomfortable. So I had this kind of impending sense of doom and drama. And so as I was photographing this scene, that’s exactly what I wanted to convey. Now, technically speaking, in terms of getting a good exposure, I could have shot the scene like this, and you can see the histogram here is really nicely brightly exposed. It’s good data. It’s good, blah, blah, blah, blurb. But does this tell that story? There’s a plane flying over and I’m also dancing cause my hands are cold. So I gotta get this video done and go home and get some tea.

All right. That’s probably good enough. So this light exposure, which is technically a proper, a good exposure, it’s really not telling that story of those emotions that I was feeling and the emotions that I want to convey in the image. Whereas this photo where I expose it more darkly or less brightly, it tells that story so much better. So here I am using my camera settings to very intentionally tell or further emphasize that story that I wanted to tell about my subject. So again, I’ve identified that my subject, which is the storm coming in, what was cool about it, or maybe what I should say I found most compelling is how it really gave me this sense of kind of impending doom and drama. That’s what I wanted to convey to my viewer. And I’m using my camera technique to do that by specifically exposing the exposure more darkly, it’s not just about exposure, histograms or shutter speed and things like that.

Camera technique can also be the way that you use your camera. Like when you press the shutter button. So here I’m photographing Lake Tipu in New Zealand. This is right in the town of Queenstown, the Queenstown gardens. It was a windy day. The wind was sweeping these waves up the Lake and they would come and they would crash on the shore here and send spray, shooting up into the air. And I really loved that. Interplay the energy of the water, hitting the rocks, the excitement of it. It really helped give a sense of the energy of the wind and what it was like to actually be there in the moment. So what’s critical about the creation of photos in a situation like that is when you press the shutter button, right? If I press the shutter button, when the waves are still you, the viewer, you’re not going to get a sense of what I was experiencing and the story that I want to tell in this photograph.

Instead, I’m waiting for the biggest possible wave to hit the rock. And I’m trying to press my Sutter at just the exact right moment to catch the maximum amount of splash and spray coming up into the air so that you really get a sense of what was happening. That wave hitting the rock, flying up. You’re seeing that you’re feeling the energy of what it was actually like to be there in the moment. So there’s another example of how you can use your camera technique to further emphasize and tell that story show. What’s most interesting about your subject to your viewers. All right, let’s get on to the last thing that you have to accomplish in order to have a successful landscape photograph. And that is use light. Don’t let it use you.

Even the light in your photograph needs to serve a purpose. And the truth is the craziest most Epic light. It’s not always the best light because just like composition and technique the light in your photo. What it has to do is enhance the story that you’re trying to tell. And so light is actually only good or to the extent that it helps you convey what you want to convey and with landscape photography, sometimes, maybe even oftentimes that story is really simple. It’s as simple as saying something like this was a really cool, unusual, beautiful place that I visited. And so if you shoot that kind of a location with some really cool, unusual, beautiful lights, well, it, that helps to tell that story. And in fact, that’s a really common story in landscape photography, and that’s fine, but it’s not the only story, right? Because sometimes the story is what it felt like to stumble across a field of wild flowers in the high Sierra.

And you want to share the joy and the happiness that you felt when you were walking through this landscape. And the loop in was blooming and bright purple in the perfume was wafting in the wind and you were just so overjoyed to be there. And if that’s what you want to convey to your viewer, that’s great. But say you decide to wait around until the afternoon thunderstorms pick up so you can get some of that really cool, dark dramatic, moody light now. Sure. Yeah, you could do that, but let me ask you this. Doesn’t that completely miss the point of the story that you’re trying to tell. In fact, maybe the best light for that particular story is right after sunrise, when there’s not a single cloud in the sky, when is completely clear. And that light blazing across the landscape creates these beautiful saturated uplifting colors.

So even though that light isn’t as traumatic, it doesn’t have that thunderstorm intensity. Isn’t that better light for the story that you’re trying to tell. So you always gotta be asking yourself when you’re photographing under different lighting conditions, what better conveys the things that you are seeing and feeling, and experiencing and what you want your viewers to understand as well. Now, the title slide for this little section about light here said, don’t let light use you. But really what I mean to say is don’t let your expectations for light or your hopes for light use you, uh, fantasizing about getting a certain kind of light is going to lead you down a dangerous path, dangerous. I say, this is a path where you start to set up shots that just don’t work because the light that’s present in the scene is telling a different story than the one that you’re trying to tell with your camera.

So take this scene from death Valley, for example, Nope, everybody wants the Epic sunset shot over the dunes. You know, I do too. I’m not immune to that, but if I go to this scene and I asked, what was I really drawn to in this particular scene in this moment? It wasn’t the big Vista and it wasn’t even this nice diagonal line here in the sand dune. What happened is I let my expectations and my hopes lure me into setting up this shot in a kind of fingers crossed desperation that the sky would blow up at sunset. But that’s exactly why this photo doesn’t work because I’m not present in this photo, not me personally, but the things that I actually wanted to convey aren’t in this photo, because what I was really drawn to here were the ripples and the ridges and the alternating light and shadow.

That’s where the real story was. That was the real interesting part for me. And that’s what the light in the scene was also, that’s the story it was trying to tell. And so when I turned my focus to just that, to really think about what was compelling in that moment, what I wanted my viewer to understand, and I let go of my expectations of what was supposed to happen at sunset that’s when I was able to create an actually successful photo. So there you have it guys, those are the five things that your landscape photos must accomplish. And regardless of the style, the kind of scene that you’re shooting or the light that you’re shooting in, if you achieve those five goals, then I guarantee you’re going to be shooting some awesome, successful personally expressive photos that you love that are beautiful and wonderful, and make your mom give you an a plus and slap it up on the refrigerator.

Well, I hope you guys enjoyed this video because I’m a big believer that learning the craft of landscape photography is going to help you a hundred times more than picking up the latest camera will. And I’ve actually got a free webinar where I talk more about my approach to photography and a craft. You can check the link down below I’ll, I’ll link it up there in the corner as well. If you enjoy this video, you’re going to really enjoy that free webinars as well. So definitely check it out.

This is Josh Cripps signing off here from the Eastern Sierra Nevada until next time have fun and happy shooting!

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Create a Magic, Dreamy Glow (Orton Effect) in Lightroom. It’s EASY.

Create a Magic, Dreamy Glow (Orton Effect) in Lightroom. It’s EASY.

If you’ve ever come across a photo online that has a really nice, soft, focused, soft, glowy effect to it. And you’ve wondered exactly how the photographer managed that. Well, this is incredibly easy to accomplish in light room. In fact, it only takes two sliders and I’m going to show you how to do it right now.

Greetings my excellent friends. It is Josh Cripps here. What the heck do I even want to say to get this video rolling? So this soft glow soft focus type of effect is known as the Orton effect. And that’s because it was invented by a guy named Michael Orton and how this is traditionally accomplished with either in the dark room or in Photoshop where you would take two copies of the same photo. One that was in focus with all the details, nice and sharp, and then a out of focus or soft focus copy of that exact same image overlaid at a low opacity, typically with a little bit of extra contrast thrown in so that the glowiness really popped and really had a luminance to itself, but they believe there’s a way to accomplish this same cool effect right here in light room. Well, at first of all, let me say that this effect does not look good on every photo and you should not use it on every photo.

I generally find that this works best on images that have a lot of direct sunlight striking something in the frame because that glow is going to provide luminance to whatever is being lit within the frame. So this works really well for photos like this, or you have a lot of backlit fall foliage or photos like this, where you might have one or two bright spots in the frame that could use a little bit of extra glowy fairy tale magic. I wouldn’t use this for every photo and I don’t recommend that you do either, but play with it and see where it might lie within your toolkit to create the effects that you want. So to create the Orton effect here in Lightroom, all we’re going to do is play it with these two sliders, the texture and the clarity, and what these do is they allow you to manipulate micro contrast with the texture and find contrast with the clarity.

And when you reduce both the micro contrast and the fine contrast, it helps the light and dark areas within a photo bleed into each other, which creates that magical glowy feeling. And so you can see here as I slide the clarity slider down, you’ll see that the glow increases that fuzziness, that magical fairy tale feel increases and the texture has a similar effect as well. And the way that I like to keep these two sliders differentiated in my own mind when I’m doing this adjustment is the clarity is the amount of actual glow that you’re getting. You can see that as I slide it up, the image starts to crunchier and crunchier. And as I slide it down, you can see, especially looking at the sun there in the middle of the frame, that the amount of glowiness increases, then the texture, what that does as you slide it farther and farther towards the negative side is it increases the amount of what I call painterly ness within the photo.

It kind of smudges out the details and makes it look a little bit more like an oil painting instead of a photograph. So I like the first plate with the clarity to dial in the amount of glow that I want. And then I use that texture adjustment to slide that down as well, to provide a little bit of that painter leanness to the degree that I think looks good within a photo. And for the purposes of this video, I’m going to do all of these adjustments to a high degree so that you can see the effect really clearly you can see exactly what I’m doing, but as with all things, post-processing, I generally recommend to use this very subtly. The less is the more if you know what I the mean. So honestly, that’s really all there is to creating this Orton effect in Lightroom to a first degree.

This is how you can start to create that glow. But of course we don’t want to lose any amount of detail within the image. We don’t want to smear all the nice, cool features within the landscape out. So I recommend that after you start to apply this glowiness and this painter leanness that you come down to your detailed tab and zoom in, just to make sure you haven’t totally obliterated those fine details. And if you have, you can use the sharpening feature to bring some of those back and a really cool tip when you’re doing this, when you’re making most adjustments within Lightroom. Actually, if you hold the alter option key, it helps you visualize really easily how the adjustment is being applied. So for example, if I hold the alt key on my keyboard, which would be option for UMAC users, and I slide the slider up and down, it turns the image gray scale, which makes it a little bit more easy to pick out the amount of detail that I’m doing.

The same is true with the radius. I can see exactly what kind of radius I’m applying in terms of the sharpening, as well as the masking. I don’t necessarily want it to apply to the darkest shadowy East areas. So I can play with that adjustment to bring back some of that detail that I may have lost due to adding some glowiness and some painterly newness within the image. Okay, now that’s a really good first step, but all of the adjustments that I’ve been doing here have been global adjustments. So they’re not only applying this glow and this painterly Venus to the highlights, to the luminous parts of the frame that actually should be glowy that actually should have that theorial fairytale feel to them, but they’re also doing it to the shadow areas. And it has the side effect of making those shadow look a little bit smudgy and featureless.

Like if I zoom in on the tree branch right here, the tree trunk, that’s what this is called. It’s a trunk. You can see that it’s just lost a little bit of the detail that it would have otherwise if the sliders were zeroed out. So if there was a way that we could apply these adjustments to just the highlights and in fact, that’s what a lot of photographers do when they create the Orton effect within Photoshop is they use luminosity masks to apply it just to the highlights to really emphasize that glow. But it turns out there is a way we can do that within Lightroom as well. And we’re going to use the graduated filter tool to do that. So here’s what I recommend you do. Don’t ask, actually apply these adjustments here in the global adjustments. Let me turn off that sharpening as well just for now.

Okay. But instead apply it with a graduated filter. So you can hit that button right here, or you can hit M on your keyboard and that’s going to bring up the graduated filter tool. And you can see, I already have some texture and clarity adjustments dialed in here. And you can just grab the ones that you thought looked good when you were playing with the global adjustments. Just use those same numbers right here in the graduated filter tool. Now, the way that we’re going to apply this tool is a little weird because we want this adjustment to take place across the entire photo, but then we’re going to dial it in so that it plays with just the highlight. So the way that we get the graduated filter to apply to the entire image is not to apply it on the image itself like this.

Oh, no, definitely not. What we do is we start above the image and if your image builds the screen too far, you can always shrink it down a little bit like that. And we were going to do this. Now, remember, graduated, filter begins where you click and it ends where you release that click. And so we want this to apply to the whole image, which means we’re going to click and drag away from the image like that. And that means everything down here. If I show the mask overlay, you can see it’s applying this graduated filter adjustment to the entire image, but what’s cool. What’s really about using a graduated filter in order to apply this adjustment is we can come down here to the range mask, turn that to luminance. And now we have a tool that allows us to tell Lightroom exactly what tonal ranges we want.

This graduated filter to apply to. We only want apply it to the highlights, right? So we can play with the range by dragging the shadows up. Now, remember what I said about that alt or option key being your new best friend in Lightroom. If you hold that key on your keyboard while you’re sliding this light room, we’ll show you exactly what total ranges. It’s applying that adjustment too. Now, remember, we only want to apply it to the bright parts of the photo to emphasize that. And so that we don’t cause our shadows to get all smudged out. So you can slide this up, something like that, perhaps. All right. So if I zoom in now here to an area that has both shadow and highlights and I move this range up and down, you can see that it is applying to the shadows, but as I slide it up, it applies it only to the highlights, which just exactly what we want.

Now, the smoothness slider right here, that is basically how abrupt the transition you are asking Lightroom to make between the shadows and the highlights. So if you want it to go more subtly, a nice, subtle transition between the shadows and highlights. You can slide that up. If you want it to be a little bit more abrupt, you can slide it down like that. Now I’m going to make it a little more abrupt because I don’t necessarily want this adjustment on the trunks. I only want it on those nice backlit leaves. And if I click on this button show luminance mask, you can see now I have this fantastic mask within light room that was created so quickly and easily, that is applying this Orton glow, this soft focus, fairytale glow with the negative texture, the negative clarity, just to the highlights. It gives us a ton of control over exactly where this adjustment happens within the photograph and how freaking sweet is that.

And if I now click on and off the gradient tool here, you’ll see that I did in fact, add some nice glow to this photo. In fact, let me turn that glow up to an extreme degree. So you can really see the effect here. I’ve added that glow too. The highlights, they really have that nice theorial feeling to them now, but I haven’t smudged out all the details in my shadows. Now, something that I want to mention really briefly, which you can add a little bit of extra sparkle to this effect. Remember how I said at the beginning that this effect was typically accomplished by combining two copies of the same photo and that out of focus copy was added with a low capacity, but some extra contrast to help that glow really feel luminous. Now, you’ll see if I turn this gradient filter on and off watch what happens to my histogram.

So with it off, you can see that my highlights are just a little bit brighter because the decrease in contrast, the highlights are bleeding a little bit more into the mid-tones and the mid-tones are bleeding into the highlights. So it pulls the overall brightness of those highlights down. So to bring back a little bit more of that brightness to make those highlights, that glow really pop a really simple adjustment, you can do, uh, go ahead and get out of the graduated filter by hitting close right here, or hitting em again on your keyboard. Then go down to the tone curve to I’m just going to pull up the upper end of my tone curve here a little bit, till that histogram more closely resembles what I had before. And you can see that that glow, that brightness of that glow is being enhanced as well.

Here’s the before. And here’s the after that glow just has a little bit more light to it. All right. Let me show you that whole process. One more time from start to finish. You can see how I would apply it to one of my photos. So I’m going to hit M to bring up the graduated filter tool, and I’m going to dial in a glow and a painter leanness, just to start then, let me apply this to the whole image by clicking and dragging up away from the photo. Now that looks a little bit too painterly for me. So I think I’m going to dial down that texture a little bit, but I do like that amount of glow, and this is really easy to adjust. You guys just slide it back and forth until you get a level that looks good to you. I think that looks pretty good right there.

Now I want to make sure that it’s applied mostly to these bright highlights here in the trees. And so I’m going to turn the range mask to luminance there and then holding alt or option. I’m simply going to slide this up until I’m seeing that this effect is being applied essentially to the brightest parts of the photo, just like that. So we have that nice glow in the tops of the trees there. Yeah, that’s nice. It’s a subtle effect, but again, with processing subtle is good. It’s just that little bit of extra mystery and magic attitude. Your photos without smacking your viewer in the face and saying, look at this cool new trick I learned in light room. All right, you guys that is going to do it for this video. I hope you enjoyed that and found it useful if you did, please subscribe because I got all kinds of videos like this on the channel, and also come in your way in the future. Now get out there, get in the light room and add some glowy magic to your photos until next time, add fun and happy shootings.

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4 Fantastic Features in Lightroom You NEED To Be Using

4 Fantastic Features in Lightroom You NEED To Be Using

Hello my excellent friends! It’s Josh Cripps here. Now I like many of you use the Adobe suite to edit my photos. And in particular, I spend a lot of time in Lightroom. And today I want to share with you four fantastic features that I love about the program that I think you should be using. So let’s go ahead and dive right in

One of the reasons that I like Lightroom so much is not just because it’s a powerful, raw editor, but also because it has fantastic organizational capabilities. And one of the best parts of those organizational capabilities is wording. So if you’re not utilizing keywording, you’re missing out on an amazing way to keep track of your images and find them quickly when you need to. Now, most of the time I do my keywording when I import photos, I tend to import in small batches. So it’s really easy to apply the same keywords to a bunch of photos at once, but you can always do keywording at any time, simply by clicking on a photo or a batch of photos, and then putting in the keywords that you want over here in this keyword area. Now, me personally, the way that I like to do my keywording is I try to include where the photo was taken what’s in the photo, and then anything unique about the photo.

Like if it’s an abstract photo or a long exposure, something like that. So you can see that this photo here from the Alabama Hills I’ve, keyworded it not only with where it is, it’s in California, the Sierra Nevada, and the Alabama Hills, but also what’s in the photo. There’s a lenticular cloud, a specific kind called a Sierra wave cloud and it’s happening at sunset. And so those are the types of things that I typically include in my keywords. You’ll notice that I didn’t put rocks or Rocky formations or pinnacles because in my mind, the Alabama Hills is synonymous with that stuff. And so I, if I’m ever going to be looking for a photo of rocks in the Alabama Hills, it’s kind of a given that searching for Alabama Hills is going to lead to these kinds of photos. Now, if I was shooting, say a big arch, I would put arch in the keywords as well.

Okay. So how does this help me other than being an extraordinarily tedious process and trust me, I know what it is because if you’re out shooting for a long time and you’ve got two weeks of photos to imports and you’ve got to write separate keyword sets for 2000 individual images, it is a pain in the. I realize that, but it’s well worth doing. And the reason is in the future, it makes it so much easier to find any photo that you could ever want to find. So if you’re trying to illustrate something for YouTube, like I do, or if a client asks you for a photo, or if you’re just scratching your head one day going, whatever happened to that time, I shot the Wanaka tree at sunrise and did long exposures there. Well guess what, if you have a robust keywording system, you can really easily find those kinds of photos.

So let me show you an example of exactly how that would work. I’m putting together a video right now about four tips for shooting the full moon. And so I want to gather up as many different kinds of full moon photos as I can. Well, one of the really cool things that you can do with keywording is build out what are called smart collections. And you can see, I actually have a collection here called moon photos. And if you log into it here, you could see that this collection it’s automatically going to pull all the photos from my Lightroom catalog that matched these conditions. So anytime I’ve labeled it with moon and any time I’ve shot a moon photo with my D eight 50. So those it has to match those two things and it’s going to show those particular photos. So in other words, this folder is only going to show me moon photos that I’ve shot with my most current best camera.

And I could adjust this to show me all the moon photos I’ve ever taken. I could adjust it to show me just the full moon photos I’ve ever taken. And to be totally honest with you, this probably needs to be updated. I preach the gospel of the keyword, but I still need to work on it myself. Now, smart collections are great. They get you one step closer to the photos that you want to find. You can see. I have a bunch of them here, like my photos from Columbia and death Valley and photos of my cats, photos from Patagonia, things like that. But what I really love to do with keywording is simply find photos quickly. So say for this video about the full moon that I wanted a demonstration photo from that time that I photograph the full moon rising over mono Lake. Now I could sit here and look through my calendar and try to figure out when the heck I went out there and shot that photo.

Honestly, I don’t remember, or I could do a couple of things. I could simply scroll down here to my Sierra Nevada smart collection. And yes, I keep my mono Lake photos in my Sierra Nevada collection Sue me. So every time I’ve labeled any photo with Sierra boom, it shows up in this catalog from there, you have a lot of other really cool options. And if your keywording is good, you can do a text search within this smart collection. And so I might search for something like a full moon mono Lake and boom. It pulls up all the photos that have that keyword in there. And then I can further refine this search. If I just look for photos that I have edited using this little toggle slider up here, I can find the two photos that I photographed over mono Lake when the full moon is rising over the Lake. 

So I can really quickly find these photos and then do something with them in my catalog. And that leads me to fantastic feature number two: photos. And you want to use them in a couple of different ways. Maybe you want to export them for video, or maybe you want to send them to Instagram or Facebook, or you may be want to make a print out of them. And all of those different use cases are going to require different kinds of settings, right? For your website or for a presentation. You might want to do a more compressed version of the photo that doesn’t take up that much space, but for print, you might want to export it to a full 16 bit TIF with no compression for the maximum image quality. And when you go to export and you can get to the export dialogue box, a couple of different ways, you can go up here to file export. You can right click on the photo and then scroll down to export.

Or you can do what I like to do is use keyboard shortcuts. In this case for windows it’s control shift E for Mac, that would be command shifty. And it brings up this dialog box. Let me scrunch this down so you can actually see it. And over here on the right, you have all kinds of different options from where you want to store these exported files, how you want to rename them. If you want to adjust the file compression, if it’s, if you want it to be a JPEG or a PSD or a TIF, what kind of color space, the size of the image and on and on all the way down through watermarking here. Now, if you have four different use cases that you’re going to put this same image into you, don’t want to have to re input those settings differently every single time.

So you can make these export presets and the way you do it. Oh gosh. It is so simple. You basically plug in the settings that you want. Like for Instagram, I know that Instagram likes photos that are 10 80 pixels wide. It doesn’t need to be a hundred percent quality. It could be like 80 something percent quality. That’s fine. So I like to put this in my, my pictures folder and I’ll put it in a sub folder called Instagram. There we go. And I don’t need to rename it. You could always add a suffix like Instagram to the file name if you want it to, uh, the compression settings there. Okay. That’s okay. I’m going to sharpen a little bit for the screen. And I also want to add a watermark. Now you can go in here and you can create custom watermarks. And there’s, I have a video about how to do that on this channel.

I’ll link it up there. Uh, and I just have this basic watermark with my logo in it. And after export, we can go ahead and in this case, we’ll have it, show it in explore. So it’s just going to open the folder for us. And so if I do all of this work, and then I changed these export settings, I’ve lost this preset. So what I can do with all of these things set here before I hit export is I can go ahead and over here on this button, click add, and that’s going to bring up this dialog box and I can call it something Instagram and click create. It’s going to save it under my user presets. I already have an Instagram preset, but I just wanted to make another one for you guys for the purposes of this video. So now I can even cancel out of this or I can change the settings completely.

Uh, like let me take a quick look at the settings that I use. When I export for YouTube. I put it in my videos folder under a sub folder called 2020, export it at 25 60 pixels. And I don’t put a watermark on there. So let’s go ahead and say that I export this photo it’s working right now. We’re actually exporting both because I had them both selected. Okay. And there it’s done. And you can see that it has gone ahead and export of that photo of both of those photos right here, where I wanted them using the settings that I wanted. That’s great. Now I want to export these and upload them to Instagram. Well, I don’t want to have to go back in here and change all of these settings back, but the cool thing is I really don’t have to, I can just click right here on that Instagram preset and it, boom, it smacks everything back where it needs to go.

And sure enough, as I export it, you’re going to see boom. There it is. It brings it up in that pictures folder that I wanted under Instagram. It put the watermark on there, put my logo on there with the right dimensions and compression that I wanted for that image. So you can create all of these presets for all of the different uses that you use for your image for. You can see I’ve got one for Facebook, Instagram, when I’m doing presentations, when I’m making prints, the ones I put on my website, the ones that I do for YouTube, or when I’m putting a really big image on YouTube. So I’ve got all these presets and you can actually have Lightroom export all of these things simultaneously. You can just click the boxes that you want hit batch export. It brings up this little guy asking you, if you want to save all the images in the same folder, I don’t check this. I just leave it as is. And I hit export. And it does all of that stuff for me automatically. The images are exactly where I expect them with the dimensions and the quality and the watermark and the sharpening and all that stuff that I’ve plugged in there. So that’s why I love export presets because I do these things so many times. It’s really great to have these one click and done solutions.

Talk about a couple of the features that I use for my actual editing. And one of my favorite tools within all of Lightroom is something called the targeted adjustment tool. I recently posted a video about how I took this photo in one of the questions I got in the comments was how do I know where to place these control points within the curve to get the look that I want? And the truth is, I don’t know exactly. Let me get rid of these and I’ll show you how I do it. Now you can make some educated guesses because it does show you the histogram here. So I can guess that this is probably where the highlights are on the curve, and this is probably where the shadows are. And if I adjust from that point, I can make a pretty good curve that I want to see, but there’s an easier way to do it, which is to come up here to this little circle and click on that.


This is the targeted adjustment tool. And any time you hover this over the image, you’re going to see I’ll put my mouse over here. So you guys can see both things at once. When I hover it over the lighter parts, it draws a control point on the curve. And if I move it down towards the darker points, it shows you where that point lies on the curve. So if I know that I want the highlights in this image, brighter in the shadows, a little bit darker. All I have to do is click and drag on the image itself, where I want to place a control point on the curve and the targeted adjustment tool does that automatically. So if I want the highlights brighter, I click and drag on the highlights on the image. I’m going to click and drag up just like that. And you can see it’s automatically placing a control point and moving the curve up.


Now I just move over to the shadows. I click and drag down and it automatically places that control point there, and you can place as many control points using the targeted adjustment tool as you want. So if you think this part of the photo is getting a little bit too dark, we’ll just click and drag up a tiny bit there. And you see it’s going to place that third control point and pull those shadows slightly back up. So you can do this on any image. It’s such an easy way to adjust the contrast and dynamic range within the photo, simply by clicking on the parts that you want, brighter dragging them up and clicking on the parts that you want darker and dragging them down. Now the targeted adjustment tool has another use case, which is adjusting color. So just below the tone curve is the HSL panel.


And for this one, I’m going to need a more colorful image. So let’s do the magic of video editing. Cool. Now we’ve got here an image that has pretty much every different color in the spectrum within the photo. Now say you want to make it a little bit more colorful, but only in the magenta. So if you go up here to that basic tab and you just increase the saturation, everything is going to become more saturated and maybe the Magento’s look good, but God, these yellows right here look like puke. And those blues are looking way too funky. So how do we adjust just the magenta? Well, hopefully you guys know that you can use something called this HSL panel, which allows you to make adjustments within each color range. So you can change the hue itself. If you want the oranges to be more red, that’s fine.


You can just slide this slide or this way, if you want the blues to be more purple-y, you can slide this slider this way. If you want the, say the greens to be brighter, you can play with the luminance of each channel right here as well. Now, the tricky thing with color is that what you see with your eye, isn’t always where the color lies on the color wheel. And this is very common with yellows and greens. You think something is obviously green, uh, but it turns out it actually lies in the yellow channel. So how do you know where to make these adjustments? We’ll again, you can use the targeted adjustment tool. So you click on this little circular dot dude and then whatever color you want to be more saturated. Say, I did want those blues to be more saturated. I could click and drag up on them.


Lightroom automatically selects the appropriate color range, where you select and makes the adjustment that you want without affecting any of the other color ranges. So if I wanted the blues a little more saturated, great, I’ve got it. Say, I want these yellows to be a little bit more de-saturated now to me, they look like yellow, but you can see that light room over here on the right is putting them in the orange channel. So I’m actually, de-saturated the oranges and that’s fine. I just want to work visually. I’ll let Lightroom do all the math and crazy calculations it needs to do. I’m just going to use the targeted adjustment tool to make the colors that I want more saturated by clicking and dragging up and de saturating the ones I don’t want as much by clicking and dragging down. So you can use the tat the tap, the targeted adjustment tool to make these really easy, intuitive adjustments. So I hope that’s something that you can bring in yeah.


And the final thing that I wanted to talk about in this video that I think you should be using in your editing is virtual copies. Say you got a photo like this, and you liked the way that you’ve processed it, but you come back a couple of weeks later, you look at it again and you go, I wonder if that would look better in black and white, or I wonder if it would look better if I processed it really dark and moody and dramatic will you certainly could bring the image into the develop module and you could undo all of the adjustments that you’ve made and said, okay, let’s change this and make it black and white. And let’s readjust the exposure to get something that looks good. And now we’re going to have to readjust the clarity and detail settings we’re going to have to make completely different tone curve adjustments.

All right. Let’s see. Uh, okay. Do I like this? Do I remember what the color copy even looked like? How can I compare the two? Well, one really easy way to do that is by creating virtual copies. So let me back up here. Boom. And I’m going to go ahead and right click on the photo and scroll down to create virtual copy and what this does. If I go back to my grid view here is it simply makes an identical copy of the photo and you can make adjustments to that second copy without altering anything of the first copy. So now that I have this virtual copy here, I can go ahead and develop this one to my heart’s content. Let’s say we want to do a dark dramatic kind of processing here. So I’m going to pull my whites up, pull my highlights up.

Uh, I mean, uh, those are the highlights. That’s what those are called. And I think we’re getting a little bit oversaturated with those colors. So I’ll drop that down a little bit. Maybe I want to add a little grad filter action down here on the bottom to bring some of that detail back in. Hey, that’s kinda cool. That’s looking okay. And if I go back to my grid view, now you can see I’ve got these two different copies of the image that I can bring up. I can compare side by side to see which one I like or I can even export both of these using an export preset to put in a video very much like this one, where I can make before and afters really, really simply. You can also use virtual copies to create raw before and afters. For example, this photo right here.

If I create a virtual copy, I can simply right click on this virtual copy, scroll down here to develop settings and click reset. And it’s going to show me the raw file. So now if I ever want to, for a video do a before and after comparison, I can export the virtual copy and the developed copy. And I don’t have to worry about the adjustments from one accidentally affecting the other, another really useful application for virtual copies is cropping. If you’re like me, you like to shoot a lot of vertical photos, but you probably aware that full two by three vertical aspect ratio doesn’t play well with Instagram. So what you can do rather than cropping your original image and kind of forgetting what it looks like as a whole is you can make a virtual copy and then you can apply a crop just to that virtual copy.

I’ll do a four by five, which is the Instagram crop. And I can just this crop until I think it looks good. Boom. Now I have an Instagram ready version that I can export using my Instagram preset and it hasn’t affected my original version. So I still have both of these photos. I can export the full version for say prints or for my website. And I can export this crop version for Instagram or Facebook. And you can do this for video. You can crop into a 16 by nine, whatever the case may be. And because you’re not actually duplicating the image file, you’re just creating this virtual copy. It doesn’t really take any more storage space. So you can make as many of these as you want for all the different ways that you can think about using an image. So I love virtual copies and I hope that you guys can use them as well. That’s going to wrap up this video for fantastic features in Lightroom that I think you should be using to improve your workflow. If you found any of these features helpful, let me know down in the comments, which one you liked most and how you think you’re going to use it going forward. Thank you guys so much for watching these videos. I really do appreciate the support and I love the interaction in the community here on YouTube. I’ll see you soon in another video until next time have fun and happy shooting.

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How Much Post Processing Goes Into My Landscape Photos?

How Much Post Processing Goes Into My Landscape Photos?

Greetings my excellent friends. It’s Josh Cripps here. Now y’all know that I’m a huge believer that you don’t need to be a Photoshop expert in order to be a great landscape photographer. I have nothing against Photoshop and I think all those really cool advanced techniques can be useful tools when you know when and how and why to use them. But they’re not requirements in order to create fantastic landscape imagery. In fact, in my opinion, if you have a really special, magical moment out there in nature, and you capture it well with a strong composition and there’s good light, and you intelligently apply your camera settings in your technique to create a great raw file, then you can turn that raw file into an amazing final image with some pretty simple adjustments in a program like Lightroom. But if you’ve been thinking well, that’s really easy to say Josh, but how much Photoshop do you actually sneak into your photos behind the scenes? Well, in today’s video, I want to show you exactly how I practice what I preach and how much editing goes into my landscape photography.

So here’s a photo that I’m going to be working on today. This is the final product, and this is a photo that I shot just recently, just a couple of days ago in an absolutely breathtaking place called the Darwin Bench in Kings Canyon, national park. This is the final image and here is the raw file. And I got from point a to point B just in Lightroom. So I’m going to show you exactly what I did, exactly what I put into this raw file to create this final image for me, one of the most important parts of the image creation process is the capture in the field and knowing what you want the final product to look like. So you can make decisions in the field. According to that idea. And in this scene, what I really wanted to showcase was the beautiful contrast between the warm colors, the cool colors, all the neat rocks in the pool here, as well as the reflections that would appear in the smoothness of the water.

So I set up a composition and chose my camera settings to capture those things. And that gave me this raw file and having that vision of what I want to see also lets me now direct my processing because I know that I want to bring out the color, contrast the detail in the rocks and the smoothness of the water. So let’s look at exactly how I do that. The first thing I noticed is I feel like the image is very slightly crooked. So I’m just going to pull up the crop tool here by hitting R and make a very small correction to straighten that out. Something like come on there, where we go. Okay, perfect. So to really bring out the details of these rocks, I’m just going to brighten up the overall image and then dark and the bright part. So I have a nice, smooth exposure across the entire frame. So here in the basic panel, I’m just going to pull up the exposure a little bit. I’m just checking my histogram here, making sure that doesn’t get blown out and I pull that up, like a stop or so something like that. I still have detail on the sky. Nothing’s clipped there, but nevertheless, I’m going to go ahead and pull down my highlights to pull back some of those details. And I’m going to increase my shadows a little bit as well.

This is going to start to create a very flat looking image, but that’s okay because we’re going to add contrast back in later, you can see that the sky is still a whole lot brighter than the reflection. And I really want those two things to be close in exposure to create a sense of connection between the reflection and the sky. So I’m also going to add a graduated filter by hitting em on my keyboard. And I have this preset darkened sky. It’s a pretty subtle adjustment and I tend to use it on a lot of my images and I like to make a nice, huge transition like this. So it doesn’t make it obvious where the adjustment is being applied. Right? If this is a very short transition like this, and it’s very obvious where you’re making these adjustments, but if you make this fantastically broad like this, then the transition smooths out and it’s really, really not noticeable.

Okay, let me close that out. Now we have a pretty good overall exposure across a frame, but like I said, it’s still looking pretty flat. So it’s time to start bringing some contrast back in the image and we can do that in two ways locally and globally and locally. I’m going to add just a little bit of texture here that help with some of the details in the rocks. And then clarity is what allows us to bring in that local contrast. The micro contrast in both the sky, the rocks, the water, all that stuff. And if I add a little bit of D hazing as well, that’s going to help bring out some of the detail in the sky. And at this point I’m also going to increase my vibration, my vibrance, and my saturation a lot. And what that’s going to allow me to do is figure out what the overall color balance of the photo is looking like.

And for me, that color balance is one of the most important parts of this photograph. I want a really, really nice compliment between the cool tones and the warm tones, so fine tuning the white balance and tint on this photograph is one of the most important parts of the editing process. And from where I shot it, I think I was using the cloudy white balance. It’s a little bit too cool for my tastes. I want to bring out some more of the warm tones. So I’m going to go ahead and warm it up here just till I get a level that looks good. I think that’s looking pretty nice. I’m starting to feel a little bit extra yellow tones though. In the, in the scene, it’s starting to feel a little sickly and that’s just because of some of this excess green here in the tent.

So I’m gonna just pull that up a tiny bit to get rid of some of that yellowness and that’s looking pretty good there. I feel like I’ve got a nice color balance in a nice exposure. I do however want to add some global contrast and I like to do that here in the tone curve. And I generally just make a nice, simple S curve where I dragged down the shadows and then I pull up either the midtones or the highlights or whatever I want adjust, and I might make some fine tune adjustments, you know, just so I get the level of detail in each of these tonal range that I like that really helps bring the photo to life, but of course what I needed to do now, I can’t forget that I need to pull down now that I’ve got the color balance figured out.

I want to pull down that vibrance and saturation back to a reasonable level. So it doesn’t feel like a cartoon photograph. Okay. That looks pretty good. I like the saturation and the blues. I feel like the reds and oranges themselves could use a little bit more saturation. So I’m going to do that in the HSL panel. And I’m basically just going to grab my little targeted adjustment tool. Like for example, I want to see this cloud a little bit more saturated, something like that. I can see that it’s living kind of in the magenta and the red channels here. So I’m just going to pull those up a little bit, just to add a little bit more to the warm tones and let’s see, did they have a very subtle effect, but a good one. Now finally, like I said, at the beginning, I really liked the detail in all the rocks. I want to help bring that out here in the detail panel. And I recommend when you’re doing this kind of sharpening that you zoom in to a hundred percent, either on the foreground or on the background, preferably both. And that way you can see what effect your sharpening is having across the entire frame. Now, overall, I’d say the, the depth of field looks pretty good for this photo, but the details could be sharpened a little bit. 

When I’m doing this, I tend to make a compromise between my foreground sharpening and my background sharpening. And here I’d like to see the background a little bit sharper. And for me that means applying the sharpening and a slightly larger radius. So if I pull the sharpening up a lot, then I can fiddle with the radius to see what looks best for the background. And I don’t really like it on the higher end actually. So I’m going to keep it down here, maybe on something like that, the default radius, that’s pretty good. That looks nice and sharp. And that should have also sharpened all of the details here in our foreground rocks too. Yeah. If I turn this on and off, you’ll see how much sharpness it adds to that. That’s fantastic, but I want to make sure that I’m not sharpening the water here.

So I’m going to pull up my masking quite a lot. And if you hold all your options, while you do this, you can see exactly where the massing is being applied. Let me zoom out so you can see it on a global scale. Cause I really only want to sharpen the rocks, right? I don’t need to sharpen the clouds with the water. So something like that looks pretty good. And then let me just add I’ll zoom in here. You might not be able to see it on the screen capture, but I’m just going to add a kiss of luminance noise reduction to smooth out any details in the clouds. And that’s looking pretty good. And I was very, very smart. I have to say much smarter than I normally am in that I cleaned my image sensor right before this trip. So hopefully as I scroll around here, I’m not going to see any big fat dust spots are correct.

There is one right there, but that’s okay. We’ll just bring up the Q tool cleanup tool and get rid of that guy. Oh, there’s a, there’s a good one right there. Smack them. Let’s just say it was a mosquito. Yeah, there was a mosquito on my sensor. That’s what it was. It wasn’t my negligence and cleaning my camera. Now there were mosquitoes flying around a lot of times on my images. I like to apply a little bit of a vignette at the end, just to kind of force the viewer’s eye to stay into the center of the frame. But on this one, I felt like it really doesn’t need it. So I’m going to leave it as is. And that is the final product there. You guys, you can see that these adjustments in Lightroom are not complicated. There are no really advanced techniques that you need to understand in order to create a final product like this. So once again, let’s go ahead and look back at the raw file. And then the final result obtained through some really simple processing here in Lightroom. And that’s going to do it for this video as always. Thank you guys so much for watching. If you enjoyed it, please consider subscribing or sharing it with your friends. It really helps me out a ton. I’m going to see you guys soon in a lot more videos. So until then have fun and happy shooting.

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How to Replace a Sky in Photoshop The Right Way

How to Replace a Sky in Photoshop The Right Way

A couple of days ago, I was roaming my way around the old interwebs and I came across this video by Mark Denney and in this video Mark paid a bunch of professional Photoshop experts on Fiverr to create a composite photo for him. He had this base image of Corona Arch with this totally blown out sky and this really nice sunset photo from Acadia National Park and he wanted those two photos smashed together. So, he threw it out on Fiverr. He got five people to send him results and when the results came in, well, they were less than impressive. They were adequate. They might look okay on social media, but blown up large they had all kinds of problems, color mismatches, fringing around the arch. And the whole time I was watching this video, I couldn’t help but think that all of these artists were missing a couple of really critical points when it comes to creating composites.

So, I sent Mark an email and I said, ‘Dear Mark, I would like to take the Mark Denny Photoshop challenge as well. I believe that I can do a better job putting these two images together in a composite.’ And Mark wrote back, ‘Gee, I dunno Josh, these are professional Photoshop experts. I’m not sure you got what it takes to pull it up.’ And I was like, ‘no, c’mon Mark, I can totally do it.’ He’s like, yeah, ‘whatever, Josh. I just don’t think you can hack it.’ I was like, ‘bro, just send me the files bro.’ And he was like, ‘bro, I don’t think so, bro. Also, I’m not your bro, bro.’ It’s like, ‘dude, just send me the files and I’ll show you what I can do.’ He’s like, fine, whatever. Just quit whining about it. Anyway, so Mark sent me the files and I thought I would show you guys what it takes actually put together a solid composite when you’re combining two totally separate images.

Let me jump on over to Photoshop here. So here we got the raw based Corona image and you can see that the sky is, in fact, totally, totally blown out. And this one is a DNG file. That’s why it’s open in Adobe camera raw here. And now down below it you can see I’ve already opened the tiff file from the Acadia national park shot. Now, I learned all my compositing secrets from the two Mans. Mens? Mans? I’m not sure. Aaron Nace from Florida and Matt K from, well Matt K. These dudes know compositing and you should absolutely check out their channels if you want to learn more about it. And if there is one lesson that I have taken away from learning compositing from those dudes, it’s that you have to match the color and the light of the images that you’re putting together as well as perspective and scale and direction and things like that.

And that’s where all of these Fiverr artists made their fatal mistake. They basically just slapped the two photos together and didn’t think much about matching the internal characteristics of the scene. So, since I want to match the sky to this photo, I want to be thinking: how does the color lineup, how does the exposure lineup, how do things like the scale perspective and the lighting direction lineup? So here in the Corona Arch image, you can see that the sky, although it’s blown out, is fairly blue. It lives a lot in the blue spectrum, whereas this shot from Acadia is much warmer, so I need to move those two color schemes closer together. I need to make the Corona art shot warmer and the Acadia shot cooler. So here at ACR what I’m going to do is I’m going to warm this Corona art shot up a little bit to try to get that sky closer to the Acadia shot.

I’ll just do some other adjustments as well. I’m gonna try to pull those highlights down as much as I can. I’ll bring some shadows up. I’m just going to do some quick adjustments to start and then I’ll go back later to the master image and make more adjustments. Let’s pull down the exposure a little bit, shadows up. We’ll add some texture and some clarity. I don’t want to do much with a dehazing for right now, so I’ll leave that alone. I’m also going to lead the vibration, vibrance and saturation alone. Now this is really critical right here, right down here where it says open image. I’m going to hold the shift key on my keyboard and that’s going to change that to open object. That’s going to allow me to go back and make more changes to this raw file if I need to during the course of this composite.

All righty, now we’ve got this Acadia image and I’m just going to grab it with the move tool and I’m going to move it on top of this guy. Now, here’s one really important thing that I want to point out that all of the artists in the Fiverr video missed. What direction is the light coming from in this Corona art shot? You can see just a couple of highlights here on the edges of the clouds. The lights coming from over here. Right? Like this, it’s shining like this, but what direction is the light coming from in the Acadia shot? It’s coming from the lower left. So the first thing that I’m going to do to this Acadia shot is I am going to flip it horizontally, transform it so that the light direction actually lines up. Great. Now let me zoom out a little bit. I need to match the perspective and scale of these two images. So I want to make sure that the horizon lines up, but that the sky still fills the entire frame. So I’m going to transform the Acadia shot something till it’s nice and huge like that, and I’m just going to line it up with the horizons. I need to make it big enough that this cliff band is not going to appear

when I mask in the sky. So let’s start with that. I’m going to lower the opacity so I can see a little bit better…what I’m doing with this. Let me go ahead and move that over a little bit more just to hide that little cliff band. There we go! Something like that. So, now we have the sky filling the entire frame. The horizons roughly match, the lighting direction matches as well. Beautiful. Now I’m going to make a first rough mask to composite these together, so I like to do this with my sky layers underneath my ground layers.

And the way I’m going to make this mask is super easy. These edges are super nice and clearly defined here in Photoshop. So, I’m just going to grab my selection wand, my selection brush tool and I’m going to select this window right here and then I’m going to hold the shift key. Actually, with the selection wand, you don’t have to hold the shift key. It automatically adds to your section because you have these really clean lines between the sky and the horizon. It’s going to make a really nice decent selection. So, I’m going to hold the alt option on my keyboard and click that add mask button. Boom. Now we have an initial mask that’s putting the two images together and this is about the place that all of those Fiverr artists stopped and called it good. But you can see if I zoom in, there’s just something kind of funky about this blend. It doesn’t quite line up. You can see the haloing around the edges here, the color matching, the luminosity mask matching just doesn’t look good across the frame. So again, this is what I’m talking about, matching that color, matching that lightness. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to actually brighten the sky and make it a little bit more cool. That’s going to help with the blend and rather than do it to this image directly, the first thing I’m going to do is right click on it and turn it into a smart object.

And what that’s going to let me do now is go up to the filter menu and add the camera raw filter. Now you can add the camera raw filter to any image at any point. But doing it to a smart object like this is going to allow me to make further adjustments and I can, I can treat it more like a raw file than a static image. So this one I wanted to brighten it up. Make sure I don’t blow out any highlights… there we go. And I also need to cool it down, right? So that it matches more the blue tones in the sky from the Corona Arch photo. So let’s just start there and see what happens. And you’re going to see as soon as I do this, how much cleaner that blend automatically gets. And I haven’t done anything to take care of the fringing around the edges here, but just look at the difference in how clean the matches – from that to that, right?

It lines up so much nicer because I’ve started to worry about the relative exposure and the color between the two things. Actually, I’m going to go back in there. If I double click on, it’s going to load the camera raw filter back up, and I can make further refinements to my adjustments. So what I’m going to do now is I’m actually going to add a grad filter here and I’m going to further increase the brightness just to this part of the frame. So remember this is my sky that I’m blending in right here, and this is the brightest part of the Corona Arch image. So that needs to be the brightest part of the sky that I blend in as well, and that’s going to further help that window, make the eye of the arch look a little bit cleaner. All right, fantastic. So this is looking much, much better already.

The blend over here I think pretty much looks seamless as is, if I zoom way in, you would never be able to tell other than the fact that there’s sort of different inherent levels of detail in the sky and the ground image. But look how clean that blend is along the horizon line there. The main thing we’ve got to worry about now as you can see a little bit of haloing, just a little bit of blue fringing along the edges of the arch and that’s actually really easy to deal with. We’re going to do that by double clicking the layer mask here for the Corona Arch image. That’s going to bring up this mask, fine tuning thingamabobber. I don’t know what it’s actually called, but you can call it the thingamabobber and there’s a couple of ways that we can actually clean up these edges. The easiest one by far is you just click this decontaminate colors checkbox right here. And what it does is it goes along the edges and it gets rid of all that fringing and look at that. Just instantly done. No more fringing everywhere there was fringing, the fringing is now gone. Sometimes this can produce other weird artifacts though. So I want to show you guys another way you can do this. Let me uncheck that.

And we’re going to work with the shift edge here. And if you basically just slide this one way or the other, Photoshop is going to manipulate the edge of the mask that you already created and clean it up. So here what we’re going to, we’re going to shrink in the edges of the mask, just enough that it gets rid of the fringing on the arch. And here again you can see that that fringing is completely gone because we shifted the edge and all. I’ll turn this effect off so you can see, look right here that the fringing is really apparent and then I’ll drag that back down and the fringing essentially disappears. So you might have to play with this a little bit to get the effect that you want, but that’s all there is to that. It’s looking really clean. All the fringing has gone all the way along all the edges.

That looks awesome. Okay, so now I’m just going to go ahead and output it to a new layer. With the layer mask. You can say it’s made a duplicate copy. I no longer unfortunately have my, my DNG smart object to make it more adjustments to, but that’s okay cause I can convert this layer to a smart object if I need to. But I’m not going to do that because at this point with the blend looking really nice and seamless, I’m actually gonna make a copy of this entire image by hitting control, alt shift E or command option, shift E on a Mac. That’s going to stamp the entire image into a single layer. Now what I can do is I can convert this layer to a smart object and then go back to filter camera, raw filter, and now I can treat this layer basically like a raw file with way better qualities and characteristics than my initial one. So, I can pull the exposure down if I want,

bring the shadows up, pull the highlights down, and now here’s where I can really start to play with bringing in the details that I want to see in this image. So I can do whatever I want in terms of the white balance. Add little bit of vibration to the scene, and I think I’ll add a little bit of a vignete just to help pull the edges down a little bit. All right. I think I’ve pulled those highlights in the middle a little bit too much. Now it’s not looking quite as realistic, so let’s leave those brighter like that. I think I’m going to warm this up just a little bit more. Flicking a little green too, so add some magenta, a little bit of global contrast as well. Just like that. And I’m not going to go super heavy on the edit on on this one because I really just wanted to show you how you can make a good composite.

This isn’t necessarily an editing tutorial, but just how if you’re going to throw together a landscape and a sky, the things that you need to think about, lighting direction, lighting, color, scale perspective, how things line up, matching the exposure and the color between the different frames. It’s going to give you a way better result. So anyway, I’m done you guys. This is my result and check it out. This is Mark’s favorite of the Fiverr results. Who do you think did it better? Leave a comment down below and let me know. Did I live up to the Mark Denny Photoshop challenge or do I just suck? Don’t be shy about leaving a comment that’s going to do it for this video. Until next time you guys have fun and happy shooting.

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10 Favorite Lightroom and Photoshop Hacks and Tips

Video: 5 Favorite Lightroom Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices

Lightroom is a killer program that combines photo organization tools with raw development tools. And while it’s generally easy and intuitive to use there are a lot of features hidden under Lightroom’s hood that will make your experience with the program that much more enjoyable. Here are 5 of my favorite Lightroom Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices.

1) Use Keywords and Smart Collections to Have Lightning Fast Access to Your Photos

Lightroom has lots of wonderful tools for organization. One of my favorite best practices is to combine diligent keywording with Smart Collections. This allows me to do things like find all sunset photos taken in Wanaka, New Zealand in a couple of clicks.

2) Add Your Logo or Other Custom Display to Lightroom

Want to impress your photog friends? Easy, have your logo appear in the Develop Module tool panels. At 3:17 in the video I show you how to exactly do that, or to display any other custom graphic. Me personally, I display a list of my favorite Develop keyboard shortcuts.

3) Create Develop Defaults to Shortcut Your Editing

Do you start every photo with the exact same edits? For example, maybe you change the camera profile to Vivid, add a certain amount of noise reduction, and set the WB to Auto. By creating Develop Defaults you can have Lightroom apply these edits every single time you import a new photo to the catalog. See 4:49 in the video to see how.

4) Show Clipped Highlights and Shadows When Adjusting Tone

In the Develop Module the histogram display gives you the option of seeing clipped highlights or shadows. The only problem is if you turn on these visualizations they are always on. It’s annoying and can obscure the details of your photo. Instead, hold the Alt / Option key on your keyboard when making any tone adjustment (Exposure, Whites, Blacks, etc.) to see any clipping. See 8:15 in the video to see what I mean.

5) Increase or Decrease the Strength of Every Local Adjustment at Once

When you add a local adjustment to a photo it’s common to combine multiple adjustments into a single tool. For example, you might add a Gradient Filter to the sky that darkens, adds clarity, warms the color balance, and increases saturation. If you later decide the effect you created was too strong you have to go back through and individually slide each of those adjustments back toward zero. Or do you?? Check out this super simple keyboard shortcut that allows you to make each of those individual adjustments stronger or weaker all together. Watch from 10:19 in the video.

6) Bonus Tip: My Favorite Keyboard Shortcut

There’s one key on the keyboard that allows tons of additional functionality within Lightroom. It’s the Alt / Option key. In some panels it allows you to reset all your adjustments in one click. In other panels it helps you visualize sharpening and noise reduction. It has a lot of power but I’ll leave you to discover some of the other fun things you can do with the Alt / Option key. Watch from 12:25 in the video.

Video: 5 Favorite Photoshop Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices

Photoshop is arguably the most powerful image editing program on the market. Many of its features are well known but it goes without saying that there are a lot of features hidden under Photoshop’s hood that will make your experience with the program that much more enjoyable. Here are 5 of my favorite Photoshop Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices.

1) Increase History States

If you make a lot of mistakes (like me) then being able to step back in time with the History Palette can be a lifesaver. My first tip (see 0:00 in the video) is to increase the number of history states to give yourself a little more editing flexibility.

2) Zoom In and Out and Pan Quickly With Keyboard Shortcuts

Forget clicking those buttons in the Navigator Window! Use Ctrl / Cmd plus +/- to zoom in or out step by step. Use Ctrl / Cmd plus 1 to zoom to 100%, and Ctrl / Cmd plus 0 to instantly fit the image into your window. Check out 1:13 in the video.

Then, instead of dragging around the Navigator on a zoomed-in image, instead press on hold the Space Bar to turn your cursor into the Hand Tool. You can then click and drag to quickly move around your photo. Watch from 2:05 in the video.

3) Adjust Only What You Want With the Targeted Adjustment Tool

Say you want to increase saturation of a certain color in your photo. Or add contrast to one specific tonal region in the image. Use the Targeted Adjustment Tool to adjust exactly what you want. This tool is available in many adjustments such as Curves and Hue / Saturation. Watch from 2:50 in the video.

4) Quickly Adjust Brush Size and Hardness

When painting on layer masks you often find that you need to adjust your brush’s size and hardness over and over. While it is possible to do this via the Brush Tool Bar, there’s a much better and faster shortcut. With the Brush tool selected, hold Alt / Option on your keyboard, then right-click and drag your mouse. Dragging to the right makes the brush bigger; dragging to the left makes it smaller. Dragging up makes it softer, and down makes it harder. Presto! Brush adjustments almost instantly. See 4:30 in the video to see what I mean.

5) Use Clipping Masks to Simplify Masking

With selective editing you often need to apply multiple adjustments to the same part of an image, like when you want to add contrast and saturation to just the sky. Instead of creating the same mask for every adjustment you can simply create a mask for one adjustment, then use a Clipping Mask to attach all the other adjustment layers to it. And in one click all your adjustments follow the master mask. Watch from 6:46 in the video.

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About the Author

Josh Cripps is a wilderness landscape photographer living in beautiful Mammoth Lakes, California. He shoots campaigns and gives presentations for Nikon. His work has been featured in publications like Outdoor Photographer, Pop Photo, and Landscape Photography Magazine. Josh also runs photography workshops, teaches online courses, and runs the popular YouTube channel Pro Photo Tips. Sometimes he talks like a cowboy and can grow an enormous beard when the need arises.

You can read more about Josh here.

5 Favorite Photoshop Hacks and Tips

Photoshop is arguably the most powerful image editing program on the market. Many of its features are well known but it goes without saying that there are a lot of features hidden under Photoshop’s hood that will make your experience with the program that much more enjoyable. Here are 5 of my favorite Photoshop Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices.

Video: 5 Favorite Photoshop Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices

1) Increase History States

If you make a lot of mistakes (like me) then being able to step back in time with the History Palette can be a lifesaver. My first tip (see 0:00 in the video) is to increase the number of history states to give yourself a little more editing flexibility.

2) Zoom In and Out and Pan Quickly With Keyboard Shortcuts

Forget clicking those buttons in the Navigator Window! Use Ctrl / Cmd plus +/- to zoom in or out step by step. Use Ctrl / Cmd plus 1 to zoom to 100%, and Ctrl / Cmd plus 0 to instantly fit the image into your window. Check out 1:13 in the video.

Then, instead of dragging around the Navigator on a zoomed-in image, instead press on hold the Space Bar to turn your cursor into the Hand Tool. You can then click and drag to quickly move around your photo. Watch from 2:05 in the video.

3) Adjust Only What You Want With the Targeted Adjustment Tool

Say you want to increase saturation of a certain color in your photo. Or add contrast to one specific tonal region in the image. Use the Targeted Adjustment Tool to adjust exactly what you want. This tool is available in many adjustments such as Curves and Hue / Saturation. Watch from 2:50 in the video.

4) Quickly Adjust Brush Size and Hardness

When painting on layer masks you often find that you need to adjust your brush’s size and hardness over and over. While it is possible to do this via the Brush Tool Bar, there’s a much better and faster shortcut. With the Brush tool selected, hold Alt / Option on your keyboard, then right-click and drag your mouse. Dragging to the right makes the brush bigger; dragging to the left makes it smaller. Dragging up makes it softer, and down makes it harder. Presto! Brush adjustments almost instantly. See 4:30 in the video to see what I mean.

5) Use Clipping Masks to Simplify Masking

With selective editing you often need to apply multiple adjustments to the same part of an image, like when you want to add contrast and saturation to just the sky. Instead of creating the same mask for every adjustment you can simply create a mask for one adjustment, then use a Clipping Mask to attach all the other adjustment layers to it. And in one click all your adjustments follow the master mask. Watch from 6:46 in the video.

If you enjoyed this article be sure to join me on my newsletter and you’ll get more like it sent right to you. I’m not going to spam you with a bunch of crap, and I’ll never sell your name to anyone else. Join the 12,000+ other people getting photos, inspiration, tips, and more delivered right to their inboxes.

About the Author

Josh Cripps is a wilderness landscape photographer living in beautiful Mammoth Lakes, California. He shoots campaigns and gives presentations for Nikon. His work has been featured in publications like Outdoor Photographer, Pop Photo, and Landscape Photography Magazine. Josh also runs photography workshops, teaches online courses, and runs the popular YouTube channel Pro Photo Tips. Sometimes he talks like a cowboy and can grow an enormous beard when the need arises.

You can read more about Josh here.

5 Favorite Lightroom Hacks and Tips


Lightroom is a killer program that combines photo organization tools with raw development tools. And while it’s generally easy and intuitive to use there are a lot of features hidden under Lightroom’s hood that will make your experience with the program that much more enjoyable. Here are 5 of my favorite Lightroom Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices.


Video: 5 Favorite Lightroom Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices



1) Use Keywords and Smart Collections to Have Lightning Fast Access to Your Photos


Lightroom has lots of wonderful tools for organization. One of my favorite best practices is to combine diligent keywording with Smart Collections. This allows me to do things like find all sunset photos taken in Wanaka, New Zealand in a couple of clicks.


2) Add Your Logo or Other Custom Display to Lightroom


Want to impress your photog friends? Easy, have your logo appear in the Develop Module tool panels. At 3:17 in the video I show you how to exactly do that, or to display any other custom graphic. Me personally, I display a list of my favorite Develop keyboard shortcuts.


3) Create Develop Defaults to Shortcut Your Editing


Do you start every photo with the exact same edits? For example, maybe you change the camera profile to Vivid, add a certain amount of noise reduction, and set the WB to Auto. By creating Develop Defaults you can have Lightroom apply these edits every single time you import a new photo to the catalog. See 4:49 in the video to see how.


4) Show Clipped Highlights and Shadows When Adjusting Tone


In the Develop Module the histogram display gives you the option of seeing clipped highlights or shadows. The only problem is if you turn on these visualizations they are always on. It’s annoying and can obscure the details of your photo. Instead, hold the Alt / Option key on your keyboard when making any tone adjustment (Exposure, Whites, Blacks, etc.) to see any clipping. See 8:15 in the video to see what I mean.


5) Increase or Decrease the Strength of Every Local Adjustment at Once


When you add a local adjustment to a photo it’s common to combine multiple adjustments into a single tool. For example, you might add a Gradient Filter to the sky that darkens, adds clarity, warms the color balance, and increases saturation. If you later decide the effect you created was too strong you have to go back through and individually slide each of those adjustments back toward zero. Or do you?? Check out this super simple keyboard shortcut that allows you to make each of those individual adjustments stronger or weaker all together. Watch from 10:19 in the video.


6) Bonus Tip: My Favorite Keyboard Shortcut


There’s one key on the keyboard that allows tons of additional functionality within Lightroom. It’s the Alt / Option key. In some panels it allows you to reset all your adjustments in one click. In other panels it helps you visualize sharpening and noise reduction. It has a lot of power but I’ll leave you to discover some of the other fun things you can do with the Alt / Option key. Watch from 12:25 in the video.



If you enjoyed this article be sure to join me on my newsletter and you’ll get more like it sent right to you. I’m not going to spam you with a bunch of crap, and I’ll never sell your name to anyone else. Join the 12,000+ other people getting photos, inspiration, tips, and more delivered right to their inboxes.






About the Author



Josh Cripps is a wilderness landscape photographer living in beautiful Mammoth Lakes, California. He shoots campaigns and gives presentations for Nikon. His work has been featured in publications like Outdoor Photographer, Pop Photo, and Landscape Photography Magazine. Josh also runs photography workshops, teaches online courses, and runs the popular YouTube channel Pro Photo Tips. Sometimes he talks like a cowboy and can grow an enormous beard when the need arises.

You can read more about Josh here.


Create a Dark and Dramatic Mood in Post Processing


One of the things that separates a competent photographer from an artist is vision. A competent photographer may be skilled at capturing what a scene looks like, but an artist is intent on showing what a scene feels like and is able to use a variety of tools to produce a final image that fits this vision. Vision is particularly important in the era of digital photography because so often in the field what we capture bears little resemblance to the final image produced. You’ve heard me say before that we are not trying to create the prettiest picture in the field. Instead we are trying to capture the best possible data that gives us a good starting point for using post processing to achieve our artistic vision.


A Starting Point – Your Raw File


When shooting in the field my typical strategy for exposure is to expose a photo as brightly as possible before the highlights start blowing out. For this particular case, when I was photographing heavy clouds above a cracked mud playa in Death Valley, that led to an exposure like this:


SOOC exposure using the Flat Picture Control

This is a pretty typical SOOC exposure for one of my landscape photos: the highlights and shadows are in check and the image looks quite flat and low-contrast. Some simple post processing on this (a grad filter to darken the sky, and the tone curve to increase contrast) produces a decent looking shot:


After some minor post processing our SOOC shot looks ok.

Now Let’s Kick The Processing Up A Notch


The image above is ok but it doesn’t really represent my experience out on the playa. I remember the clouds being incredibly dark and brooding, full of fantastic textures. The pockets of light seeping through the clouds were like little gateways to the sky above and kept pulling my attention from the ground and into the heavens. So I want my final image to showcase those things. In order to get the effect I want the process is simple in concept: I want to pull down the exposure a lot, making sure to use the Blacks and Shadows sliders in Lightroom to keep any details from getting clipped. Then I want to use the Whites slider to pull up the brighter tones in the image (this helps those pockets of light in the clouds pop), and use my Highlights slider to make sure nothing gets blown out. Then I’ll use the tone curve to add global contrast in the image, particularly paying attention to separating the dark tones in the photo in order to bring out all the juicy details in the clouds.

Let’s go through all those steps in sequence. First I’ll go back to the raw file and drop the exposure. In this case I reduced the exposure by just over 2 full stops. No real science to this; it was merely the point where my shadows began to approach pure black. Nothing was clipped though so it turns out I didn’t need to adjust my Shadows or Blacks sliders.


After reducing the exposure of the raw file the photo looks like this

Next I’ll pull my Whites slider up (+75) to bring out the cracks of light in the clouds. This caused a fair amount of highlights to blow so I also need to pull the Highlights slider down significantly (-86) to retain detail in the bright clouds in the middle left. There are still some blown highlights but I will fix those in Photoshop later with a quick exposure blend.



The next step is to use the Tone Curve to separate the distinct tonal regions of the photo from one another to pull out the juicy detail in the clouds. I pulled the deep shadows farther down, and the lighter shadows up in brightness. This brought out great texture in the sky. I also pulled up the highlights in the Tone Curve to get those bright cracks of light in the clouds to really pop. (Check the comments for what that Tone Curve adjustment looked like in Lightroom.) Those simple adjustments led to this result:


The Tone Curve helps bring out details in the dark sky

Finishing Touches


This image looks pretty good now; it’s full of mood and drama and much more closely represents my vision of the scene. Now I want to add a couple finishing touches: first, an exposure blend in Photoshop to bring detail back into the blown out clouds on the left hand side. This isn’t always necessary for this kind of dark and stormy processing, but it happens to be for this particular photo.

I also want to do some dodging and burning. Notice how the central bright halo of clouds is brighter on the right than on the left? I want to dodge the left hand side to even that out. I’m also going to dodge the center of the playa to create a subtle pathway of light to lead your eye from the foreground to the sky. I also made a few minor color tweaks. Those touches result in this final image, which encompasses the full mood of my experience:


A few finishing touches and voila: a dark and dramatic photo.

It’s a simple process that yields powerful results. This process can work for many kinds of photos when you have dramatic conditions or great contrasts within a scene. I hope you can use this in your own processing for creating moody images.

Thanks for reading!

Josh




If you enjoyed this article be sure to join me on my newsletter and you’ll get more like it sent right to you. I’m not going to spam you with a bunch of crap, and I’ll never sell your name to anyone else. Join the thousands of people getting photos, inspiration, tips, and more delivered right to their inboxes.






About the Author



Josh Cripps is a wilderness landscape photographer living in beautiful Mammoth Lakes, California. He shoots campaigns and gives presentations for Nikon. His work has been featured in publications like Outdoor Photographer, Pop Photo, and Landscape Photography Magazine. Josh also runs photography workshops, teaches online courses, and runs the popular YouTube channel Pro Photo Tips. Sometimes he talks like a cowboy and can grow an enormous beard when the need arises.

You can read more about Josh here.


Create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. Part 3: Clean Up & Final Touches

Learn how to create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. In this video I cover techniques to clean up the photo for a perfect composite. To follow along you need a Milky Way photo plus a photo from the same composition shot during dusk.

Part 1: Edit and process the Milky Way in Lightroom or ACR
Part 2: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Matching Color and Tone
Part 3: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Perfect Selections and Masks
Part 4: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Cleaning Up and Final Touches

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

Join Josh on Social!
http://instagram.com/joshuacrippsphotography
https://www.facebook.com/JoshuaCrippsPhotography

Create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. Part 2: Select & Mask

Learn how to create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. In this video I cover techniques to create virtually perfect selections and masks for a clean composite. To follow along you need a Milky Way photo plus a photo from the same composition shot during dusk.

Part 1: Edit and process the Milky Way in Lightroom or ACR
Part 2: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Matching Color and Tone
Part 3: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Perfect Selections and Masks
Part 4: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Cleaning Up and Final Touches

Until next time have fun and happy shooting!

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

Join Josh on Social!
http://instagram.com/joshuacrippsphotography
https://www.facebook.com/JoshuaCrippsPhotography

Create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. Part 1: Color & Tone

Learn how to create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. In this video I cover techniques to match color and tone for a more seamless composite. To follow along you need a Milky Way photo plus a photo from the same composition shot during dusk.

Part 1: Edit and process the Milky Way in Lightroom or ACR
Part 2: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Matching Color and Tone
Part 3: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Perfect Selections and Masks
Part 4: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Cleaning Up and Final Touches 

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

Join Josh on Social!
http://instagram.com/joshuacrippsphotography
https://www.facebook.com/JoshuaCrippsPhotography