Photography Post-processing Tips to Covert Dull Landscapes Pictures into Stunning Images

autumn in hunza

Starting Image

Landscape photography is loved by every nature lover and perhaps the most popular subject among the photographers. Reasons for this are obvious as natural scenery have a special attraction for the human eye and camera is the only machine which can record this beauty of nature forever or at least for generations to come. To record what you see actually in the scene is almost impossible as even most costly cameras have limitations as compared to the human eye. Using tripods, shutter release cables, filters and fast lenses can record a scene with details up to some extend but you still need to post process these in some post processing software. Using all the gear and accessories is not possible in every situation and casual travel photographers even not be able to afford that. They tend to shoot landscapes whenever they are out for spending their vacations with their family or friends. They are also not very apt in using software to enhance their pictures up to pro level. Here I will give you some quick and simple tips to make your landscape pictures vibrant, punchy and presentable. One thing very important to remember in post-processing a picture is to keep it natural. Moving sliders of different tools is not a way to do the work. Post-processing landscape pictures needs some patience and practice. Try these tips on your different images and you will be able to make your pictures look like pro-images.

I am using Photoshop cc for post-processing my images. So screenshots I am using here are of PS cc.

PP tip 1 #: Sharpen and Enhance details  

Auto contrast

Auto contrast


Sharpening is one of the most important step in post-processing. This is your arbitrary decision whether you want to apply it in the beginning or at the end. That will make your landscape pictures look punchier with lot of details in the elements. There are multiple ways to sharpen your pictures in Photoshop and have almost the same effect. Here we will use two tools, one is “un-sharp mask” and second is “High Pass Filter”

Follow the following steps:

Open Image in PS and Duplicate

Open the image by going to file menu and choosing open. Duplicate the image and close the original file. Always try to work on copy of and image and never use original one as you need it to reprocess in future.

Duplicate Background layer and apply the Filter

Right click on the background layer and choose duplicate layer. A new layer will be formed. Change the blending mode of the duplicate background layer into overlay. That will make the image very saturated with high contrast. Choose Un-sharp mask option from the Sharpen filter’s sub-menu by drop downing the main filter menu. Keep the Radius value of filter at 0.3 pixels and threshold at 0 or you can change the relative value to get the desired results. Changing blending mode to “soft light” will make the pictures more cool but less punchy.

Applying High-Pass Filter

Duplicating layer

Duplicating layer

High pass filter is in the filter dialog box in submenu “others”. It will increase or decrease the image sharpness just by adjusting sliders. It is best to keep the filter value from one 1 to 5 pixels. This is again an arbitrary decision. Over exaggeration may ruin your landscape picture and would result in an un-natural image.

Change the Blending Mode

Change blending mode will have a visible effect on your final image. Hard light or overlay will increase the sharpness and vibrancy but soft light will make the pictures subtle and more natural.

Using either high pass filter or un-sharp mask will increase the details in in your image and overall impact of picture will increase many fold.

Removing Haze

Many of landscape pictures in Raw form have haze specially in summer time when there is a lot of humidity. Even haze filter is not enough to cut the haze.  But this is not a big issue as modern post processing software like Photoshop have can easily fix that issue.

Go to the main menu image and submenu auto contrast in the drop down dialogue. That will remove the haze and make the image haze les. It works on pixel luminosity in the image. Finer tuning can be done by adjusting levels in the Image – adjustment- levels menu.

Increasing Local colors
Yellow color enhanced

Yellow color enhanced

Sometimes you have to increase the single color in the image like yellow of the autumn trees in this image. Go to the Image menu and submenu adjustment. Select hue saturation and color yellow. Now only yellow will be effected by moving slider of saturation and hue. Adjust the effect to keep the colors natural but vibrant.

Similarly if you want to increase the color of the sky and want to make it bluer or enhance the clouds vibrancy you have to apply some more actions. One easy way to do that is to create a solid color layer of the color you want to increase i.e. a blue color in case of sky. Change the blending mode to soft light and remove the solid color layer through layer mask from the image other than sky. That will make the sky rich blue and do not affect the other parts of the landscape image.

solid colors

Another easy way to enhance sky color is to duplicate the image and paint the sky area by selecting a paintbrush tool and blue color. Change the blending mode of the layer to soft light or overlay and you will have a saturated sky than the previous image. Flatten the layers by drop down menu on the left corner in the layer pallet.

Now you have a much vibrant and punchy landscape image than the original one and people will love your images. But keep in mind to remain in the natural zone. Anything un natural and over exaggerated will ruin your efforts.

Final Image

Final Image


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