Follow along: retouch a landscape photo in Lightroom

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom offers a retouching tools that can take your photo from good to great. In this tutorial I am planning to show you why you just need Lightroom to do many of the adjustments on a landscape photo. So download the sample file and follow along...


1. White Balance and warm to cool color shifts

The photo was taken with Camera Auto White Balance. Whenever I shoot a landscape photo I tend to shift the colors to Lightroom Auto and start from there. So go to the Develop Module (D), in the Basic Panel on the right-hand side, click the White Balance tool in the top right, then select 'Auto' from the drop-down list. Lightroom will do a good job there. I would also like to shift the foreground to warm and the skies to cool so select the Graduated Filter (M) from the panel and click and drag from bottom to the horizon line. Reset the effect by double clicking on the word "Effect" on the top right side of the panel. Then shift the Temp slider a bit to the right; +60. Now add a new Graduate Filter (M) but now drag it from top to bottom. Take the Temp slider to -73. The result is shown in fig.1


2. Basic Adjustments

Exposure +0.5, Highlights -23, Shadows +12, White -5, Black +10, Clarity +35, Vibrance +45, Saturation +20. The result is shown in fig.2


3. HSL / Color / B&W

Now we want to mimic the Polarizing filter effect but very subtly. For that go to the HSL / Color / B&W panel and under saturation set Aqua to +20, Blue to +20. Now remove the same amount from the Luminance i.e. Aqua -20 and Blue -20. Notice the bluer sky and the reduced luminance reflections in the water. The result is shown in fig.3


4. Details: Sharpness and Noise balance

This photo was shot at ISO 800 and some of the noise is obvious if you zoom in at 1:3. But first, under Details panel, increase the Sharpness to 67. Now increase Noise Reduction to 43 and Detail to 74.


5. Local Adjustments

Select the Adjustment Brush (K) tool from the top right of the Develop Module. Increase clarity to +35 and paint over the foreground to reduce the haze further.

Make a new Adjustment Brush Exposure -10 and Flow 30. Start buy Burning (Darkening) places in the photo like the sky, the left part of the sea, and the houses in the front.

Select the Spot Removal (Q) tool and start removing any distracting element like lights and boats. Make sure you are on Heal and not Clone.

Finish by adding a Post-Crop Vignetting effect under Effects panel. Set the Amount to -10 or there about. 

Export to JPEG with Screen Sharpening set at Standards. Figure 4 shows the resulting final image.

Now it is your turn to share your results in the comments below! Have fun!



As shot by Canon EOS 7D, Raw format 

fig.1. White Balance and warm to cool color shifts

fig.2. Basic adjustments

fig.3. HSL / Color / B&W

fig.4. Final result