14 photo editing tips and tricks every landscape photographer must know

14 photo editing tricks and tips every landscape photographer must know

Essential photo editing tricks for landscapes: 02 Blend raw exposures

Essential photo editing tricks for landscapes: 02 Blend raw exposures

Your camera has a limited dynamic range, which means when presented with high-contrast scenes like the one above it will struggle to record everything the eye sees.

Luckily, Raw files contain such an incredible amount of detail that a seemingly dud exposure like our start image here can produce surprisingly good results.

Camera Raw’s tonal controls have become so good that they now surpass those found in Photoshop, especially when working with Raw files.

The trick with scenes like this is to process the image twice: once for the bright areas and once for the shadows.

We can do this quickly and easily by using Smart Objects in Photoshop. Once we have our two treatments we can paint a simple Layer Mask to blend them together. Here’s how…

01 Process for the shadows

01 Process for the shadows
Open your start image into Photoshop and it will automatically open in Camera Raw. In the Basic Panel, set Exposure to +0.63, Shadows to +63, and Clarity to +55. Hold down Shift and click the Open Object button to open the image into Photoshop as a Smart Object.

02 Process for the highlights

02 Process for the highlights
In the Layers Panel, right-click the layer and choose New Smart Object via copy. Double-click the thumbnail of the copy to send the layer back to Camera Raw. Double-click Exposure, Shadows and Clarity to reset them to Exposure -0.20, Highlights -50, Whites -19.

03 Blend the layers

03 Blend the layers
Hit OK, click the Add Layer Mask icon then grab the Brush tool. Set the colour to black and press 3 for 30% Opacity. Paint over the foreground to hide parts of the darker layer, revealing the lighter treatment below. Press X and paint with white if you want to reveal more of the top layer.

PAGE 01 Master HDR
PAGE 02 Blend raw exposures
PAGE 03 Combine several photos into panoramas
PAGE 04 Reveal more detail with Layer Masks
PAGE 05 Control the tonal range
PAGE 06 How to make light rays
PAGE 07 Use Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush
PAGE 08 Use Selective Adjustments
PAGE 09 How to use focus stacking
PAGE 10 Make a ‘Dotscape’
PAGE 11 Make a surreal scene
PAGE 12 Light painting
PAGE 13 The key to editing in black and white
PAGE 14 Raw tonal control


How to process raw images the right way
Adobe Camera Raw: the secret to using it for just about everything
Adobe Camera Raw: 8 tools that will save your raw files
Raw Images: 10 tips every photographer must know before ditching JPEG

  • Patrick O’Connor

    Okay, I give up. Where do I find “rays_sky.jpg”, mentioned in “Page 06 How to make light rays”?

  • Ash_Innovator

    Same question. These instructions are not clear at all. Is there a specific sky i’m supposed to use? The sky in my photo I’m trying to add light beams too is the sky i selected. I don’t know what to do here.