What’s the subject? This is a question you should ask yourself before composing your landscape pictures. You’ll be able to take better pictures if you respond to it. However, some circumstances in which some items in the frame may detract from the main subject, regardless of how you set your camera.
I discuss editing strategies in this post that you may apply to solve that issue.
I want to emphasize three points I mentioned in a previous essay regarding retouching before we go into them.
Don’t always turn to edit to address issues with photographs. Start by working hard in the field to minimize the necessity for such modifications. If that’s not possible, do everything you can to make the editing process simpler while keeping in mind your post-processing options.
I spent a lot of time trying to find the optimum perspective to capture the breathtaking cascade at Indonesia’s Kapas Biru waterfall. The topic was evident. However, I didn’t only want to display the waterfall. I also wanted to highlight the unique features of Kaps Biru’s surroundings.
After an hour of exploring the area, I discovered a stunning portion of the stream leading to the waterfall. I stood in its middle and took the picture you see above. The big waterfall in the background was intended to be drawn into view by the river. But it didn’t work right out of the camera. I’ll show you the original snapshot and describe the issue I encountered.
When I was on location, I could not locate a viewpoint that didn’t make the rock in the foreground beneath the main cascade appear enormous. It was attracting too much attention even on the little camera display, and it only worsened when I subsequently checked the file on my laptop.
Choose Your Image Transformations
Keep your subject’s and its surroundings’ integrity in mind while using selective picture alterations. Try to keep it realistic and avoid letting such manipulations turn into their source of distraction.
I had to make more drastic alterations than usual to the image of Kapas Biru. The rock too heavily weighted the composition in the front.
So I choose to utilize the Liquify filter rather than the widely used warp tool. Anywhere in the frame, shrinking an object’s size is a terrific idea. The absence of specified shapes or straight lines in the element you alter requires to Liquify to function. The tampering would be evident in this case.
But pebbles with arbitrary shapes work fantastically. Make a flattened duplicate of your current modification in Photoshop or turn it into a “Smart Object,” The latter will enable a non-destructive filter application. Go to “Filter – Liquify” to open a new panel after that.
Setups on the right side can be ignored. The “Distortion Tools” on the left is ideal for scaling objects in landscape photographs. The “Pucker,” “Bloat,” and “Push” tools are the most beneficial for taking landscape pictures of them. With the “Freeze Mask” tool, you may combine them to preserve certain regions.
Start with the “Pucker” tool and set its size to roughly that of the element you want to modify if you’re going to minimize the size of an object. Then, while moving the shrub, click on your objective a few times to make it smaller.
By switching to the “Bloat” or “Push” tool, you may widen the area around the element. But take care: these distortions will damage the clarity and details. Always verify the outcome in total to make sure no flaws were introduced.
Avoid and Burn
On top of the layer stack, add an empty layer and choose “Soft Light” as its blend mode. Then, paint over the parts you wish to darken with a black, soft brush and highlight significant sections with a white, delicate brush.
To make the boulder more similar in tone to the smaller rocks adjacent to it in the Kapas Biru photograph, I darkened it. In this manner, it becomes invisible. I purposefully made it brighter to pull attention away from the rocks and toward the waterfall.
It helps to darken parts distant from the subject and brighten sections closer to it when using dodge and burn to create visual movement in a shot. Make an effort to produce a tone gradient from dark to light.
Though it might seem odd in some scenarios, it won’t always be feasible to make the main subject of a photograph the brightest component. However, you may still alter how dark and light parts are juxtaposed to influence where viewers look.
I want to share with you a third tool that impacts micro-contrast. The eye is not always drawn to the highlights in a photograph. Additionally, it is drawn to contrast. Thus, using dodge and burn to reduce and increase micro-contrast carefully will aid in guiding the spectator.
The micro-contrast can be altered in a variety of ways. The Camera Raw Filter is one that I enjoy using. I may accentuate and downplay features by increasing and decreasing micro-contrast with the Texture and Clarity sliders. I used a mask to give texture and clarity to the rocky wall around the cascade in the Kapas Biru photograph.
The goal of using micro-contrast is subtle alterations. Keep the sliders from moving too far to the left or right. That will only result in an unnatural appearance. Be aware that slight adjustments are necessary to capture the audience’s attention.