7 Lightroom Tips To Transform Your Winter Photos

The frigid winter months provide an exceptional opportunity to capture unique photos, but they aren’t the easiest to create due to extreme weather conditions and the many post processing nuances related to snowy winter photography. In this video I review 7 Lightroom tips that has helped me along the way with my winter post processing workflow. 

1. Change Your Background

This tip actually has nothing to do with your image, but rather the canvas you’re working on. Right clicking the background and changing the color to white creates a good reference point for absolute white and will certainly help you with the remainder of your edit.  

Lightroom Tips to Transform Your Winter Photos 01

2. Adjusting White Balance

Adjusting the White Balance can be a tricky proposition due to the reflective nature of snow. If you use the eye dropper to target a neutral color (snow) this will almost always result in Lightroom over warming the photo. I’ve found that setting the white balance to Auto and then reducing the settings by half provides a good starting point to begin the rest of your edits.  

Lightroom Tips to Transform Your Winter Photos 02

3. Resolve Exposure Issues

Many of my winter photos usually require a bit of positive exposure in Lightroom since most camera’s metering systems like to under expose snow. I’ll usually hold down the Option key(Mac) and drag the exposure slider to the right until I see pixels beginning to bleed through. I do this to determine how far I can push the image from an exposure perspective and then I back it off until I find an exposure level that looks good. 

Lightroom Tips to Transform Your Winter Photos03

4. Choose Your White & Black Point

I often try to fill out the histogram by setting an absolute white and black point, but I approach winter photos in a slightly different manner. With a snowy scene I’ll pull up the white point as far as I can before clipping the highlights, but rather than bringing the black point down I’ll bring that up as well. I like the softening effect this creates in the photo - sometimes I’ll even dial in a bit of negative Clarity to exaggerate the ethereal look. 

Lightroom Tips to Transform Your Winter Photos 04

5. Add & Remove Contrast

Next time you edit a winter image try removing global contrast using the contrast slider, then add contrast back in using the tone curve. I prefer this approach as it will typically result in a smoother less contrasty look, again creating a softer feeling image.  

Lightroom Tips to Transform Your Winter Photos 05

6. Get Creative With Colors

When I think of a creative edit I immediately think of colors. There’s many different ways to get creative with colors within Lightroom, but I find that adding a subtle green or blue tone to the shadows using split toning produces a great look.  

Lightroom Tips to Transform Your Winter Photos 06

7. Walk Away

This should be the easiest step in the process, but it’s often the most difficult to accomplish. I recommend this with any image, but taking a break from your edit and allowing your eyes to reset is certainly time well spent. It becomes difficult to see minor changes that you’re making to an edit after you’ve been staring at it for awhile, especially winter photos. 

Winter is probably my overall favorite season for photography, but it certainly comes with a unique set of challenges during post processing and while on location. The additional work is usually rewarded though with unique images that many folks wouldn’t dare venture out in the elements to capture. 

How To Choose Which Camera Lenses To Purchase

Determining which lenses to purchase can seem like a daunting task at times with regards to the abundance of options available today, but with a bit of planning and research, the buying process can easily be simplified. I’ve broken down the selection process into five individual categories and questions that’ll help determine what the right lenses are for you.

What’s The Primary Use?

What’s the primary use going to be for your new lens, will it be for astro or macro photography or will it be used for capturing sweeping ultra-wide landscape vistas? Whatever the case may be, identifying the exact purpose for your new lens will certainly point you in the right direction as you begin to refine and narrow down your available lens choices.  

How To Choose Which Camera Lenses To Purchase 01

Focal Length

This might be the single most important decision to make when selecting which new lens to purchase and goes hand in hand with identifying the primary purpose. If the primary use for the new addition is astro photography then you’ll want to go with a wide or ultra wide focal length such as a 16-35mm. If you plan on using your new lens to isolate distant subjects and compress a scene, you’ll want to select a much longer focal length such as a 70-200mm or 135-300mm. And, if you’re looking for the flexibility of both you’ll want to focus your attention on a mid-range zoom lens with a focal length of 24-70mm or something similar. 

How To Choose Which Camera Lenses To Purchase 02

Prime or Zoom?

Are you looking for the flexibility that comes with having a zoom lens or are you looking for a fixed focal length prime lens? Typically, prime lenses are somewhat less expensive, sharper, and generally weigh less. Zoom lenses on the other hand, come with a higher cost and generally weigh more, but most importantly provide you with the flexibility to zoom in and out of your frame in order to refine your composition.

Read the entire blog post here: https://visualwilderness.com/fieldwork/how-to-choose-which-camera-lenses-to-purchase/?ref=27

What New Camera Should I Purchase?

Full Frame, Crop Sensor, DSLR, Mirrorless, Canon, Sony, Nikon - there has never been a time where so many camera options were available to consumers. Not only are there an abundance of brands, features and options to choose from, but the blistering pace at which camera manufacturers are refreshing their camera line-ups just adds to the dizzying decisions photographers are faced with when the time comes to decide whether or not to purchase a new camera.  

What New Camera Should I Purchase? 01

It’s rather easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of a recently refreshed version of our favorite camera setup, but in many cases a solid reason to upgrade might be absent outside of just wanting the “latest and greatest” version. I know I’ve personally fallen into this trap more times than I care to admit, but I’ve learned that before I rush out and make an impulsive decision I need to take my time and do my research in order to evaluate what the case for making a camera change truly is. 

Identify The Problem You’re Trying to Solve

First, identify what you’re looking to accomplish with a particular upgrade, or stated differently, determine what problem you’re trying to solve. Are you looking for a higher resolution camera because you want to begin printing your images larger or are you looking for a camera that has in body image stabilization  because you want the ability to take more handheld shots in low light conditions?

What New Camera Should I Purchase? 02

Or maybe you’re looking for a camera body that has dual SD card slots because you’ve had a card fail and lost all your images from a recent trip. Whatever the reason is, outlining the end goal and the problem you’re trying to solve is a great way to determine if now is the time to purchase a new camera. 

Read the entire blog post here: https://visualwilderness.com/q-and-a/what-new-camera-should-i-purchase/?ref=27

Find Your Creative Style With Split Toning

In my opinion, the most under appreciated tool within all of Lightroom has got to be Split Toning. Not only is this a great option to solve many photo related problems, but it’s also an excellent way to work towards developing your own creative editing style. If you’re not familiar with Split Toning, it’s a fairly straightforward concept where you apply a specific tone to the shadow and highlight areas in order to create color separation within the luminance values of your image. Below is a great example of how Split Toning works - this is a standard gradient map going from pure black to pure white showing the shadow region transitioning to highlights.

Find Your Creative Style With Split Toning Lightroom Tutorial 01

If we go to the Split Toning module in Lightroom and apply a yellow tone to the highlights and a blue tone to the shadows, we’re left with a gradient map that looks like this: 

Find Your Creative Style With Split Toning Lightroom Tutorial 02

In this 11 minute video, I discuss the different techniques that can be used to apply Split Toning to your images and review the specific problems that it can solve. In this example, I want to add a subtle warm tone to the highlight areas to more closely resemble what the scene looked like when I originally photographed it.  

Find Your Creative Style With Split Toning Lightroom Tutorial 03

There’s a few ways to select the tones to apply, but a quick trick is to move the ‘Hue’ slider while pressing the ‘Option’ key (ALT on PC) - this will set the saturation of any specific hue to 100% in order to make it easier to decide which hue you’d like to choose. Once you identify the color you want to apply, just release the option key and move the saturation slider to the desired strength. 

Find Your Creative Style with Split Toning Lightroom Tutorial 04

Another option is to select the rectangular box to the right of the highlight and shadow area and use the eye dropper tool to select the exact color you want to apply.  

Embracing the subtle Power of Split Toning 05

Once you have your tones selected, Lightroom gives you the option to balance the amount of emphasis you’d like to apply to highlights vs shadows. If you want to put a greater emphasis on highlights then move the slider to the right, if you want to emphasize shadows move the slider to the left - or you can just leave it at 0 applying an equal weight to both.

Embracing the subtle Power of Split Toning 06

Below is what were left with after the split tone adjustment is applied. We were able to warm up the highlights and cool down the shadows using the cinematic color combination of teal and orange. This is a great example of fixing a problem and at the same time getting a bit creative with the edit. 

Embracing the subtle Power of Split Toning 07

When you land on a highlight / shadow combo that you really like, you can simply save the split tone adjustment as a preset and then apply it to any image you’d like moving forward. This is a great time saver and an excellent way to create consistency within your editing workflow that’ll enable you to work towards developing your own creative style. 

3 Essential Reasons To Use Lightroom Range Masks

Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 8.14.11 PM.png

With every Lightroom update, the overall power of the application increases. This could not be more evident than with the release of their newest tool, Range Masks. The need to create masks in order to create highly refined selections has always been one of the main reasons I had to move an image from Lightroom over to Photoshop to finish an edit. Also, the need to create highly-selective masks targeting very specific components of an image has almost become a standard practice with every image that I edit. When you make global adjustments, you might be effectively correcting one area of your scene, but at the same time you could be negatively impacting another.

This is where having the ability to create a highly-targeted selection to a specific area of your photo is critical. The ability to do all of this under the proverbial hood that is Lightroom is huge! In my opinion, the less I have to bounce an image from one editing software to another the better. So, the more I can accomplish in Lightroom the better.

Focused Local Adjustments

As we mentioned earlier, making global adjustments to an entire image is fine in some situations, but you often need to make refined local adjustments. For instance, you may want to increase the shadows in one specific area of your foreground, but keep the shadow levels unchanged across the remainder of your image. This is where the Lightroom Range Masks tool comes in super handy. With the luminance or color range mask, depending on the scene, you can make a highly-refined selection only targeting the foreground of your scene while leaving the remainder of your image untouched.

Range Masks are a great way to bring out the details and colors in every part of your landscape image while also selectively balancing light and exposure to create natural looking photos.

Read the entire blog post here: https://visualwilderness.com/post-processing/3-essential-reasons-to-use-lightroom-range-masks/?ref=27#disqus_thread

6 Lightroom Tips to Create Moody Landscape Photos

It seems the moody edit trend has been going strong for quite a few years now and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. There’s probably no better time of the year to capture moody landscape photos than the winter months. It’s interesting, if you search the web for ‘moody landscape photos’ you’ll instantly see a trend of cool, blue & green toned, subdued images - these characteristics appear to be the most common qualities of a good moody image.  

6 Lightroom Tips to Create Moody Landscape Photos 01

In this 10 minute video I review six Lightroom editing tips that I apply to my images to create or enhance the mood of a photo. 

1. Reduce Exposure & Cool Down

First we want to reduce the exposure a bit and cool down the overall color temperature of the image. This step is an easy and straightforward one, but makes a dramatic impact to the feeling of the photo.


2. Tint the Shadows

This is something I don’t hear done very often, but tinting the shadows in the ‘Calibration” section and sliding the tint more towards the green side creates an impressive result that helps achieve that “cinematic” look.  

6 Lightroom Tips to Create Moody Landscape Photos 02

3. Desaturate the Color Palette 

There’s a few different approaches you can apply here to effectively desaturate an image. I generally like to increase vibrancy while at the same time reducing the saturation or I’ll jump into the HSL panel and individually change the saturation and luminance of each color channel. 

4. Adjust Tone Curve

Subtle-Subtle-Subtle! You can get sideways real quick here if you’re not careful. Adjusting the Tone Curve of the blue channel can create an incredibly moody effect when done in an oh so delicate way.  

6 Lightroom Tips to Create Moody Landscape Photos 03

5. Split the Tone

I find that Split Toning is great for creating color contrast or color separation between the highlights and shadow areas of an image. Since we already applied a cool green tint to the shadows in Step 2, I want to apply a bit of warmth to the highlights to better seperate the two regions of the photo. 

6 Lightroom Tips to Create Moody Landscape Photos 04

6. Vignette & Texture

And for the finishing touch, I always like to apply a vignette to the image just to darken down the corners a bit to keep the viewers ey e looking towards the center of the photo. And, apply a touch of grain just to rough the photo up a bit and get away from the perfectly clean digital image appearance.

I’m sure there’s a slew of additional ways to a apply a moody edit to an image, but these are the six steps I generally follow when creating this look. I’m always amazed how simply adjusting the the colors and color balance of an image can completely change the feeling of a photograph and it’s fun to do as well! 

7 Essential Lightroom Tricks I Use Daily

Everyone’s list of Lightroom tricks and shortcuts is a bit different and when I started to compile mine I wasn’t 100% sure what they were exactly. It’s funny how you don’t even realize you’re using these handy timesavers as they become second nature when you apply them within your editing workflow. 

In this 6-minute video, I review my list of 7 essential Lightroom tricks that I use on a daily basis. These are placed in order of importance simply based off of how often I use them. Some of these are widely known and others I don’t hear discussed very often - hopefully you aren’t familiar with all of them and you’re able to pick up a couple new ones that you can apply to your editing process moving forward. 

7.  Spot Removal Reselect 

How often does Lightroom auto select an inaccurate area of your image to use as the basis for the spot removal tool? Happens to me all the time and if it happens to you, just hit the forward slash key “/“. This will tell Lightroom to make another selection - you can keep doing this until you’re happy with the selection. 

7 Essential Lightroom Tricks I Use Daily 01

6. Increase Your Feather

Simply holding down the shift key while simultaneously hitting either of the bracket keys, this will increase or decrease the size of the feather of your local adjustments brush. A super simple trick, but insanely useful!

5. Survey Mode

This is a great for landscape photography where you have many images that look seemingly identical. While in the library module, if you highlight say 9 images and select the “N” key this will bring up the survey mode. This is a great way to figure out which one if the keeper! 

7 Essential Lightroom Tricks I Use Daily 02

4. Shift Double Click Slider 

Not sure what the name of this trick is so I just made one up. While in the develop module, if you hold down the shift key and double click the sliders within the basic panel, Lightroom will automatically set that particular slider to what the “auto” setting should be. This is a great way to get an idea on one certain slider as opposed to hitting the actual auto button which will set all sliders to the “auto” setting. 

3. Show Selected Mask Overlay

Not sure why Lightroom decided to make the “Show Selected Mask Overlay” checkbook so small, but if it drives you bananas trying to click this every time you want to see the mask you’ve applied, just hit the shortcut key “O”. 

7 Essential Lightroom Tricks I Use Daily 03

2. Instagram Crop Shortcut

If you have an image in a landscape orientation and you want to crop it to the 4x5 aspect ratio for Instagram you’ll notice that 4x5 for landscape orientation is different than 4x5 for portrait orientation which is what Instagram prefers. I quick way to make this adjustment is to use the shortcut key “X”. 

7 Essential Lightroom Tricks I Use Daily 04

1. Before & After Key

This is a fairly popular trick and it’s one that I use many times throughout my day. While in the develop module on a particular image you can select the backslash key “\” to show you what your image looked before any edits were applied. 

Like I said earlier, I hope you weren’t familiar with all of these tricks and shortcuts and you were able to walk away with at least a few new ones that you can apply to your post processing workflow moving forward.

3 Tips for Choosing Black & White or Color

Something I’ve always found difficult was knowing when an image should be converted to black & white and when it should be left in color.  It’s one of the more contested discussions in photography and there really isn’t a “black and white”:) or cut and dry answer to it. After much trial and error, I’ve come up with three questions that I consistently ask myself when trying to determine if a color image is a good candidate for black & white.

Does the image NEED color?

Some images need color in order to be effective and to accurately represent a moment in time. Color is fantastic at catching the viewers attention and depicting seasonality or setting from a time of day perspective. In the example below, if you remove the color from the scene, the entire story changes and you can no longer lean on the autumnal colors as the main subject of the photo. On the other hand, images that have a subdued color palette and don’t rely on color to portray the story could be good candidates for a black & white treatment.  

3 Tips for Choosing Black & White or Color Image 01
3 Tips for Choosing Black & White or Color Image 02

Is there interesting light or shadows?

Black & White is great at showing off the tonal range in the light and shadow areas of your scene. Many times in situations similar to the image below, color can actually become a distracting element that takes the viewers attention away from the interesting light and/or shadows.  

3 Tips for Choosing Black & White or Color Image 03
3 Tips for Choosing Black & White or Color Image 04

Are there any interesting textures?

Now this is my favorite question! If you have an image that has interesting texture then it could most definitely be a great candidate for B&W. Images that are captured when the sun is low on the horizon, providing side light that rakes across your subject creating incredible textures - well this is where B&W shines the most in my opinion. When people think of B&W they think of a raw and gritty image that has a certain level of toughness associated with it and this is emphasized even more when B&W is applied to an image with interesting textures.   

3 Tips for Choosing Black & White or Color Image 05
3 Tips for Choosing Black & White or Color Image 06

Although this isn’t an exact science and these questions are by no means the end all be all solution to identifying good Black & White photos, they will certainly jump start the creative thinking to help you identify what works best for a particular image, Black & White or Color.  

4 Simple Tips for Better Landscape Photography Trips

Due to circumstances that are generally out of our control, not all landscape photography trips are a success, but with a bit of planning you can increase the likelihood of having a productive outdoor photography shoot. The soft morning or late afternoon light that all landscape photographers are after is generally a short lived event and being as prepared as possible will enable you to capture it when the moment is right. 

Virtual Scouting

A great way to determine if a location is photogenic is to hop over to 500px and run a search for your location. This will also show you how others are capturing your planned location and will provide compositional ideas that you might want to apply or avoid when you’re on-location.  

4 Simple Tips for Better Landscape Photography Trips 01

Pre-Visualization

It’s good to not only become familiar with your specific subject you’ll be photographing, but also the surrounding area. For this, Google Earth is your best friend - this is one of the coolest applications Google has ever created in my opinion. 

4 Simple Tips for Better Landscape Photography Trips 02

Light

This is what we’re all after! Good light can make or break a photo and understanding where and when you can expect the light to arrive is super powerful information to understand. There’s many apps you can use to determine this, but the app I like to use is LightTrac. It’s very straightforward and has a user friendly interface that will show you everything you need to know in order to be in the right place at the right time. 

4 Simple Tips for Better Landscape Photography Trips 03

Clouds

This works in conjunction with the light, if the clouds are thick any available light will be snuffed out. The clouds that produce those burning sunrises or sunsets we all love are high clouds. I use an app called Clear Outside to determine the predicted cloud cover for a specific location on a certain day and time.  

4 Simple Tips for Better Landscape Photography Trips 04

There’s nothing worse than running around on location like a lunatic trying to find a good composition when the sky is exploding with color, but with a bit of advanced planning you can reduce the chances that this will happen to you on your next photography adventure.

How to FIX WIDE ANGLE SHRINKAGE Fast in Photoshop!

How many of you can relate to this scenario? You encounter a scene that really grabs your attention, it has all the elements you look for in a great composition - spectacular foreground that works the eye towards the mid-ground which in turn leads the viewer towards a majestic mountain range in the background. You grab your wide angle lens to capture the entire scene, click the shutter, review the image - you couldn’t be happier with the results. You arrive back home, load the image on your computer, but somethings off, the image lacks the grandiose quality that first caught your attention. The foreground and mid-ground look solid, but the the mountain range in the background no longer reflects what you saw with your naked eye - it shrunk! This shrinking effect is a common issue with wide angle photography where your background elements take on a miniaturized look - especially mountains. In this video, I’ll show you a cool trick to quickly stretch those shrunken mountains to more closely resemble what they appeared like when you first captured the image. The process is very straightforward and only consists of three simple steps. 

Step 1:

Load your image in Photoshop and grab your crop tool, you’re going to perform a “reverse crop” - instead of cropping in, you’re going to crop out, in order to create additional room to stretch your photo. 

How to FIX WIDE ANGLE SHRINKAGE Fast in Photoshop! 01

Step 2: 

Now, select your rectangular marquee tool and make a selection along your horizon line across your image and to the top of the photo. Next, you’ll want to right click your selection and click free transform.

How to FIX WIDE ANGLE SHRINKAGE Fast in Photoshop! 02

Step 3:

For the final step, you simply grab one of the anchor points at the top of your selection and drag your image to where your crop ends and select the check mark to confirm the transformation.  

How to FIX WIDE ANGLE SHRINKAGE Fast in Photoshop! 03

And that’s it, you’ve successfully recreated the scene as you saw it in the moment. Wide angle lenses are a necessity in landscape photography, but they don’t come without their distortion issues, however with a bit of finesse and Photoshop wizardry these issues can easily be resolved. 

WideAngleGIF.gif