Landscape photography is a common element found in layouts, landing pages, and a variety of other marketing materials. If your landscape photos are only destined for your personal photo album, it may be best to leave them in their authentic state. But, if they’re going to be part of a sales or public relations effort, you need to make sure that your landscape imagery is dazzling.
You may think your photos look spectacular already, but when you integrate them into designs with bold colors and carefully-crafted layouts, you might find that they appear dull and bland in their new context. Luckily, basic image retouching techniques can correct most of the color issues that sometimes affect our imagery. You can push the boundaries of realism and make dull colors come to life, whether you work in digital or film formats.
In today’s tutorial, I am going to show you a super-quick method for enhancing the colors of your photography—particularly your landscape photos—in less than ten minutes.
Step 1: Open
First and foremost, open the image that you want to correct.
Step 2: Duplicate
So that you preserve the original image, duplicate the image onto a new layer.
Step 3: Auto-Corrections
To give your background a color boost, go to “Image” > “Auto Tone and Image” > “Auto Contrast.” Your image shall now appear less dull than it did before.
Step 4: Water
Use the lasso tool to select the water. Try to avoid selecting the boats in the distance.
Fill in your selection with color #4ac1ff.
Change the layer mode to “Soft Light,” drop the opacity to 70%, and merge with your duplicated landscape layer.
Step 5: HDR Toning
Go to “Images” > “Adjustments” > “HDR Toning” to access the menu. (Or, take a timeout and learn more about High Dynamic Range.)
Step 6: HDR Toning Settings
Follow the settings below and press “OK” when finished.
Your image should now look like this.
Step 7: Copy and Undo
Select your new HDR image, copy it, and then press undo until you have your two layers again.
Paste the copied HDR image onto your canvas, change the layer mode to “Soft Light” and merge it down.
Step 8: Curves
Press CTRL + “M” on your keyboard to access the “Curves” menu, and change the settings for the red and green channels as shown below.
After you press “OK,” your image should look like this.
Step 9: Erase
Erase the water and sky from the layer with the newly-modified curves, change the layer mode to “Color,” and drop the opacity to 50%
Finish your image by painting the sky with color #ffcc43. Paint a small path through the water where the cliffs part, as well as the edges of the cliffs to give the appearance that the sun is shining. Change the layer mode to “Color” and drop the opacity to 16%.
Correcting an image’s overall color can be done in a matter of minutes thanks to Photoshop and a few common color correction techniques. Of course, this simple method won’t be able to fix every detail, especially if your image is overexposed, underexposed, or just plain blurry. For those types of imperfect photos, more time and effort will be needed to correct their problems.
Naturally, there are various other color correction methods that could be employed; it really just depends on the photo in question and the time you have to improve it. Try messing around with your image’s levels, as well as adding gradients and tonal changes.
Do you have frequent needs to improve imagery for your designs? Do you have any time-efficient techniques of your own for turning photos from dull to dazzling?
Gabrielle is a creative type who specializes in graphic design, animation and photography.