Many times when you go out and about to capture some new landscape photos, to add into your collection, you see nature in it’s beauty, just waiting for you to take a picture before the sight is gone. Why will the sight be gone? Weather, sunlight, moonlight, human interference etc.
When you finally decide to take the picture you see in front of your eyes you envision it to come out as stunning as your own eyes experience it, so you lift up your camera, aim at the target, locking the focus and shoot! Moments captured.
You look at the camera and press play to see the image you just took and… what a disappointment! “This s#%! Doesn’t look at all like what I saw. No colors, not lights. WTF?”
Yeah, that happens. And guess what – the moment is gone.
But no worries! We can probably fix that. If your image looks less than you expected, the next most important thing will be the focus. If the image is not blurry your chances to save it, and actually create an incredible photo out of it, are good.
Before we go into superman mode (rescuing your image picture), you have to understand at least 2 important things:
- The beauty you see during sunsets, sunrises, a sun-washed moment, rays of light in churches, night shots etc, will most likely look way better to the naked eye rather than a raw image on your camera, which takes us to the next point.
- If you can, always shoot RAW images. Don’t be saving space on your CF or SD cards. Get more cards. Shoot RAW!
Time to make your photograph look 10 times better, in only 3 easy steps.
For this short tutorial I chose the image below because I believe you’ll see a big improvement and how easy it is to achieve such improvement.
Step #0 – I don’t consider it as an actual step – Open your desired photo in Photoshop. If it’s a RAW file, it will automatically be opened in Camera Raw, which is a Photoshop plugin that is included with your subscription. If it’s not a RAW file, after opening it, at the menu bar look for Filter > Camera Raw Filter.
Step #1 – Play around with the Highlights, Shadows, Whited, Blacks, Vibrance and Saturation. Don’t worry too much about exposure and contrast (unless you really have to). I say “play around” because to me it’s more of a taste thing rather than a technical thing.
Here are the adjustments I made to my image
Step #2 – Now that your image is looking a lot better, let’s make sure it’s properly aligned and straightened up. If you shoot in a city (usually with a wide angle lens), buildings, polls, stop lights etc, will lean towards the center rather than being straight up.
The easy way to fix that is simply clicking on the Lens Corrections settings.
I would suggest to click the “Manual” tab and select A for automate because it works pretty well most of the times. If that didn’t work for you try the other options. If needed, you can use the sliders below for further adjustments.
In my image the settings didn’t change anything because the horizon is already straight and there are no vertical lines to correct.
Another thing you want to fix is the Chromatic Aberration that you don’t always see if your eye is not trained for it, or you simply don’t know what it is. “Chromatic Aberration? What the hell are you smoking dude? Never heard of it.”
Chromatic Aberration, also known as “color fringing” or “purple fringing”, is a common optical problem that occurs when a lens is either unable to bring all wavelengths of color to the same focal plane, and/or when wavelengths of color are focused at different positions in the focal plane.
To fix that, click on the Color tab next to the Manual tab. To keep things simple just click the empty square next “Remove Chromatic Aberration” It’s enough for about 90% of the cases.
Step #3 – Perfect your results – You have probably noticed that your image is looking more like what your eyes saw when you were mesmerized enough you decided to capture that moment.
Just know that this step can sometimes make or break your image. The future of an awesome creation is in your hands, make it count.
The first thing we might want to do is sharpen the image a little more, to make things pop a little more. It will look like not much happened, but will make a big difference for when you want to print it or present it on bigger screens.
Click on the Detail icon.
Under Sharpening, slide the Amount bar to about 75 and the Masking to about 90.
When you’re done sharpening, click the HSL/Grayscale icon.
This is where you control the colors and their intensity pretty much. We won’t go into it because it’s to your liking but I’ll tell you what each of the options mean in case you don’t know.
Hue – Controls the actual pigments (amount of red green and blues in our case) so if you move the sliders, the colors will change.
Saturation – Controls the strength of each color. If you slide it all the way to the left for example there will be no color left.
Luminance – Controls the brightness of each color. Simple, slide left to get darker colors and slide right to get brighter colors.
I mentioned that the last step can make or break your image because if you overdo the sharpness it will make your image grainy and if you overdo the color adjustments people may not like what they see. If you don’t care about other opinions, by all means, over do the f*#% out of it.
Here is an example
And now for the before and after
I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial and create some amazing images.
Feel free to write your comment in the comments section below