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: 04 Reveal detail with Layer Masks

Essential photo editing tricks for landscapes: 04 Reveal detail with Layer Masks

Image by Mark Hamblin

Pro photographer Mark Hamblin says

I use the digital darkroom because I find that many of my landscape images require some additional work to extract further detail in the dark and bright areas of the picture, which helps to create a more balanced image.

Using a simple Layer Mask technique allows me to quickly make subtle adjustments to dark or light areas of the picture using the Brush tool, which I set at a low Opacity so that the changes can be built up gradually.

This is a two-stage process: once for areas that require darkening, then again for lightening.

After opening the image in Photoshop, go to Layer>Duplicate Layer to make a Background copy. Then (to darken areas) set the layer’s Blend Mode to Multiply. The image will go much darker.

Now go to Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All. Select the Brush tool and set the Opacity to about 10%, then adjust the size of the brush to suit the area you want to work on.

Next, click and hold the mouse and move the Brush tool over areas of the picture that require darkening.

This gradually erases the Layer Mask to reveal the darker Background copy layer underneath. Work on all the areas that require darkening to get the desired effect then go to Layer>Merge Layers to flatten the image.

To lighten areas in the picture, use the same technique, but after creating a new Background copy, set the Blend Mode to Screen in the drop-down menu. Then proceed as before.

See more of Mark’s work

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


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  • 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.