Selective adjustments in Lightroom: use this workflow to add punch to seascapes

Selective adjustments in Lightroom: a simple workflow to add punch to seascapes

Are your seascapes often flat and lifeless? In this tutorial we show you how to use selective adjustments and Clarity in Adobe Lightroom to add punch and contrast to your images.

Selective adjustments in Lightroom: a simple workflow to add punch to seascapes

Our before and after

01 Tweak the colour
Before adjusting individual areas of the image, you can make some basic adjustments to the whole image. The main adjustments are to the Vibrance and Saturation.

Selective adjustments in Lightroom: step 1

By setting the Vibrance to around -60 and the Saturation to around +60, you boost the blues and greens to enhance the cool look of a winter landscape.


Selective adjustments in Lightroom: step 2

02 Enhance the land
To bring back some detail in the headland, select the Adjustment Brush and carefully paint over this area. If you paint over the sky or sea you can use the Erase option to correct this.

Now drag the Exposure to around +3, the Shadows to +64 and the Contrast to 75. To add some extra punch, increase both the Clarity and Saturation to around +30.

SEE MORE: 8 mistakes everyone makes in Lightroom (and how to avoid them)

Selective adjustments in Lightroom: step 3

03 Adjust the sky
Select a new Adjustment Brush and paint over the entire sky, this time taking care to avoid painting the headland. Add more contrast to the sky by setting Clarity to 75 and Contrast to 95.

To remove some of the unwanted blue colouring set Saturation to -50. Finally, set Highlights to -76 to retain detail in the brightest areas of the sky.


Selective adjustments in Lightroom: step 4

Improve the sea
The final area to adjust is the sea. Pick the Graduated Filter tool and simply click and drag the filter from the bottom of the image upwards until
the centre line is aligned with the horizon in the image.

Then increase the Temp slider to 17, and add extra punch by setting the Contrast to 20, Highlights to 12, Shadows to -39 and Clarity to 71.


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  • Keith

    I must be missing a point being totaly new to this,
    Do i “Paint” in a colour because if i do the image becomes that colour?

  • callmebob

    It’s been a while since you posted but someone else may stumble on it and want the same question answered.

    The areas shown in red are those being painted over with the adjustment brush. You can have LR display this color aid by pressing “o” then doing SHIFT-O repeatedly to cycle through and pick the red or green color you want shown. “o” again will turn the display off.

    You can also tell you’re in the adjustment brush in those photos by the number of menu choices displayed in the menu panel – there are a lot more for adjustment compared to the normal Develop mode Basic panel.

    Hope that helps …