How to edit landscapes shot with your kit lens
01 Combine the exposures
Download our start images and follow along! Open our three start images in Elements’ Expert mode. The first thing we need to do is combine the images in a single document. Take the Move tool, click on landscape_start_1.jpg and move the cursor up to the landscape_start.jpg tab so that the start.jpg image is displayed. Drag down onto the image, hold down Shift to align the images, and release the mouse button to add the image as new layer. Add landscape_start_2.jpg above the start_1 layer in the same way.
02 Reveal the sky
Add a layer mask to the top two layers, and hide the top layer for now (click the eye icon). Take the Brush tool, and set the foreground colour to black and Opacity to 100%. Click the ‘Layer 1’ mask, and paint over the sky to hide it and reveal the sky from the layer below. Hit X to switch to a white brush if you go wrong.
03 Reveal the highlights
Next target the top layer, and click the eye box to show it again. Click the layer mask, and press Ctrl+I to invert the mask to black and hide the layer. Use a white brush at 50% Opacity to paint back some of the highlights in the image, but only partially reveal overexposed areas such as the highlights in the water.
04 Levels adjustment
Now we’re going to make a few simple tweaks to our image using adjustment layers. First add a Levels adjustment layer to fine-tune the exposure and contrast. Set the Shadows slider to 5, Midtones to 1.23 and Highlights to 232.
05 Contrast and colours
Next add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, and set Contrast to 36. To boost the colours add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, and set the Master Saturation to +10. When you’re happy with the image click the top layer, and press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E to create a merged layer containing all the visible layer content and effects.
06 Retouch and sharpen
To remove the distracting yellow sign on the wall, take the Clone Stamp tool, Alt-click to sample the wall adjacent to the sign, and clone these pixels over the sign. Our image looks a little soft as we shot it at such a narrow aperture setting, so we’ll sharpen it. Go to Enhance > Unsharp Mask. Set Amount to 95% and Radius to 2.5 pixels, and leave Threshold at 0.
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