Get the Ansel Adams look in Photoshop

Get the Ansel Adams look in Photoshop
(Image credit: James Paterson)

When we talk about great landscape photographers, Ansel Adams has to be the first name on the list. His starkly beautiful images of the American wilderness displayed flawless technique and a uniquely crafted vision. Most of his work made use of monochrome film; lens-mounted filters (usually yellow or red) to emphasize skies; and darkroom techniques that added contrast and controlled detail.

All of these great effects are simple to recreate. The first step is to convert our image to mono. Some methods for this are better than others. The best tools give you control over the brightness of individual color ranges in the image during the mono conversion. One such tool is the HSL panel in Camera Raw, within Photoshop. Just as Adams used filters, we can use HSL to control color brightness for a dramatic sky. Our technique differs slightly from the normal approach to Camera Raw mono, in that we’ll use HSL’s saturation sliders for greater control.

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James Paterson

The lead technique writer on Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, James is a fantastic general practice photographer with an enviable array of skills across every genre of photography. 


Whether it's flash photography techniques like stroboscopic portraits, astrophotography projects like photographing the Northern Lights, or turning sound into art by making paint dance on a set of speakers, James' tutorials and projects are as creative as they are enjoyable. 


He's also a wizard at the dark arts of Photoshop, Lightroom and Affinity Photo, and is capable of some genuine black magic in the digital darkroom, making him one of the leading authorities on photo editing software and techniques.