How to edit your winter landscape
01 Exposure adjustments
Download our start images and follow along! Open masterclass_start.dng in Camera Raw in Photoshop. In the Basic panel set Exposure to +1.90, Fill Light to 40 (or use the Shadows slider in newer versions of ACR) and Brightness to 41. Set Blacks to 3, and Vibrance to +42 to boost the less-saturated colours. Next we’ll create the effect of frost or snow. Select the Targeted Adjustment tool, right- click in your image and choose Luminance.
02 Tone down the greens
Click on the grass, and drag up or right to lighten it. You’ll see the Green and Yellow values change in the right-hand panel – set both to around +80. Next, right-click and choose Saturation, then click on the grass and drag down or left to reduce the Green and Yellow saturation to about -90 and -80 respectively.
03 Make local adjustments
Right-click and select Luminance again, then click on a blue tone in the sky and set Blues to -35. Click on an orange/brown tone in the background, and set Oranges to -5, then select Saturation, and set Oranges to -75. Select the Adjustment Brush, and make sure all the sliders are set to their default values (double-click a slider to reset it).
04 Boost the foreground
Set Exposure to +0.30 and Contrast to +50. Click in the foreground to place an adjustment pin and check Show Mask. Set Brush Size to 10 and Feather to 100, and paint over the foreground. Check New, leave Exposure at +0.30 and reset Contrast to 0. Paint over the shadowed foreground rocks bring out more detail.
05 Boost the sky
Click New again and set Exposure to -0.90 and Contrast to +50. Click in the sky to create a new mask, and paint over the sky and tree. Next select the Graduated Filter tool, and set Exposure to -0.35 and Contrast to +48. Click in the top-left corner of the sky, and drag a diagonal line down to just above the horizon to darken that corner and balance the exposure.
06 Add a vignette
Click the Zoom tool to display the tabs above the right-hand panel. Click the Tone Curve tab, then click the Point tab at the top of the panel. Click-and-drag on the curve line to draw an S-shape to boost the shot’s contrast. Click the Lens Correction tab, click Manual, and under Lens Vignetting set Amount to -26 and Midpoint to 32 to create a subtle vignette. Click Open Image to open the image in Photoshop’s main editor.
07 Blur the clouds
In Photoshop, duplicate the ‘Background’ layer, then go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and set Angle to 9 and Distance to 204 pixels. Add a mask to the duplicate layer, and paint over the land and tree with a black brush to hide the blur, so it’s only applied to the sky. Add a Colour Balance adjustment layer, set Tone to Midtones, and set the Cyan/Red slider to -16 and the Yellow/Blue slider to +23.
08 Change the blending mode
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, select Cyans from the menu and set Saturation to -41, then select Blues and set Hue to +5 and Saturation to -60. Add a Black & White adjustment layer, and set the Cyans slider to 62 and Blues to 33. Change this layer’s blending mode to Overlay to boost the contrast and bring back the colour, and reduce the opacity to 35%.
09 Dodge and Burn
Add a Curves adjustment layer and create a gentle S-curve to boost the contrast. With the Curves layer targeted, press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to create a merged layer at the top of the layer stack. Take the Dodge tool, set Range to Midtones and Exposure to 12%, and paint over the shadowed areas of the rocks in the foreground, and the tree, to bring out more of the detail in those areas.
10 Finishing touches
Take the Burn tool, set Range to Midtones and Exposure to 20%, and paint over the lower part of the sky to bring out the detail in the clouds. To boost the contrast further, add a Levels adjustment layer and set Shadows to 14 and Highlights to 235.
Dull day photography: what (and how) to shoot when the sun isn’t shining
Flat light: how to bring your dull images back to life
Golden Hour Photography: tips for making magical landscapes at dawn
How to take sharp landscape photos
The landscape’s greatest challenges: a free photography cheat sheet