Four Creative Lightroom Tips for Landscape Photography

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Four Creative Lightroom Tips for Landscape Photography

Everyone has their go-to activities to clear their mind and relax. For some, it’s yoga; for others, it's a hot bath. For me, it’s editing landscape photos. The process of sifting through my albums and finding that perfect shot to edit always mellows me out. But sometimes, it’s easy to fall into a routine and apply the same edits repeatedly. I call this “sticky editing.” To break out of this, I recommend experimenting with Lightroom tools, which you might usually avoid.

Here are four tips to help you get creative results when editing your landscape photos in Lightroom. In addition to the tutorial video below, I also wrote out each of the tips in case you prefer following along that way. I also linked to additional tutorials in case you want to dive deeper into each of these four tips. Enjoy!

Tip 1: Use the Tone Curve for Contrast

When it comes to contrast, I never use the contrast slider. It’s great, but it adjusts contrast on a predefined track. For more control, I use the tone curve. The tone curve allows you to precisely control the highlights and shadows. By adding points to the curve, you can increase or decrease the brightness in specific areas, giving you granular control over the contrast. This method also adds a bit of saturation, which you can adjust with the saturation slider. Plus, you can use the red, green, and blue channels to fine-tune the colors in your image.

Tip 2: Color Calibration for Richer Tones

Lightroom Desktop and Classic have a hidden gem: color calibration. While this tool isn’t available on Lightroom Mobile or Web, it is worth exploring on your desktop. The blue primary saturation slider is particularly powerful. Increasing it makes the natural colors in your photo look richer and more vibrant. You don’t need to go all the way to 100%. A little adjustment goes a long way. You can also tweak the green and red primary sliders, but I find that blue primary often does the trick.

Tip 3: Create a Custom Vignette

A vignette helps draw the viewer’s eye to the center of the frame by darkening the edges. Instead of using the standard vignette tool, which applies uniform darkening, use multiple radial gradient masks for more control. You can shape the vignette to cover specific areas of the photo. By inverting the mask and adjusting the exposure, you can darken the edges without affecting the center. This method allows you to create a custom vignette that matches the unique composition of your photo.

Tip 4: Add a Soft Glow

This tip is more about adding an effect rather than a standard edit. You can add a soft glow using a radial gradient if your photo has directional light, like a sunlit sky. Create a large radial gradient mask and position it where the light source is. Increase the exposure slightly and use the dehaze slider to the left to add a beautiful, warm glow. Adjust the temperature and saturation sliders to match the natural light in your photo. This effect can add a subtle, dreamy quality to your landscape images.

Some Final Thoughts

These tips are designed to help you think outside the box and explore the full potential of Lightroom’s tools. By using the tone curve, color calibration, custom vignettes, and soft glows, you can add depth and creativity to your landscape photos. If you’re looking to take your editing skills further, check out my course, Lightroom Landscapes, which provides a clear framework for approaching landscape photo editing. I hope these tips inspire you to try new techniques and enhance your editing process!

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