Phototips on Saturday: A useful approach for landscapes in Lightroom
In last week’s post on Lightroom I promised a useful approach for landscapes. An issue that is frequently identified in landscape photography is having significant differences in brightness across an image (i.e. a wide dynamic range). A typical example would be having a relatively dark foreground combined with a bright sky. In camera my aim is to avoid completely blowing out the sky. A useful method for controlling this is by using graduated neutral density filters. While this provides a useful start further work is often required during post processing. This is where this post starts.
Global settings in Lightroom
My general approach in the Basic Panel of the develop module is to drop the highlights right down (negative values), push the shadows up (positive values) and drop blacks down by a small amount. I also push the contrast slider a small amount to the right – if this is overdone the effect of moving the highlights and shadows slider will be undone.
The specific amount to move the sliders depends on the starting point with the photo, what graduated neutral density filter was used in camera (if any) and what outcome you are pursuing in this specific image.
Graduated filter in Lightroom
I also find the graduated filter in Lightroom can be useful in the situation outlined above. Most obviously, use of this filter over the sky can involve further efforts to reduce brightness in the sky. However, the graduated filter can be used for much more than playing around with exposure or highlights or shadows. I came across a useful article written by Jason Row on Lightroom’s graduated filter recently. It was published on Lightstalking here – I highly recommend reading it.
As always I recommend giving the above a go if you are not already using this approach. I always find I learn by experimenting so go ahead, take what you want from the above and see how it goes. If you have an alternative approach you may be able to add some components from this piece into your experimental use – see what you think of the outcome.