04.05.2015

The secret to STUNNING landscape photos… that you probably don’t know.

04.05.2015

The secret to STUNNING landscape photos… that you probably don’t know.

Have you ever taken a photo that doesn’t do a stunning scene justice? A sunset that was so much more beautiful than your underwhelming iPhone photo displayed?

I know I have had this problem. I used to get so frustrated that my photos wouldn’t turn out the way that I remember them feeling when I was shooting them.

When shooting landscapes it seems like we only have 2 choices. Either we can have the sky

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look too bright (blown out highlights)…

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or we can have the landscape look too dark below the horizon.

But that all changed when I finally understood a big secret in landscape photography. Let me explain…

The secret is to balance the exposure.

Great… but how do I balance an exposure? Do I have to use some cheesy HDR methods? (High Dynamic Range)
Nope.

There is another way. This secret requires you to gain an understanding of a nuance in photography, rather than rely on a specific type of technology.

HOW TO BALANCE AN EXPOSURE

We need to start with understanding the way that the digital sensors record light in our cameras.

When light is recorded onto a digital sensor like our mobile phones it cements in certain information in the picture. You have limitations to how you can edit the photos afterwards.

For instance:

You can’t darken the part of a photo where the sky is already too bright… but you can bring up the shadows in a landscape (within reason) when it’s too dark. When the highlights in the sky go completely white in a photo… there is no bringing that information back. But when you have a slightly dark photo, you can brighten it up to a certain extent.

1. The first part of balancing an exposure is to shoot the photo slightly underexposed (Too dark).
Perhaps the sky looks perfect but the landscape beneath the horizon is too dark.

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2. The second part is understanding how to “selectively” adjust the brightness/ exposure in just
the landscape beneath the horizon (or darker areas).
My favorite mobile editing app “Snapseed” has a Selective Adjust mode where you can raise the
brightness in an isolated part of the photo.

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You can also resize the area the adjustment is affecting.

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Selectively raise the exposure in only the areas you need that are too dark. Create Multiple adjustments if needed.

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Once you apply these adjustments you’ve now brightened up the landscape below the horizon and have balanced the exposure of the entire photograph!

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You can then edit the photo further with your favorite filters/ techniques. Have fun!

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David Molnar

In my iPhone Only Photography eCourse I teach how to “edit to recreate the feelings you felt when you took the photo”. I want to encourage you to check out the course and try to do the same. Find out more about the course here: iPhoneOnlyPhoto.com

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