Processing Landscape Photos in Lightroom
This article is aimed at being a flash-guide on how I processed one of my landscape photos in Lightroom. Below is the initial image, followed by the final image (click on them to flip between the two):
As you can see, the image changed by a decent amount. It started out dull (because I shot it in RAW), but my edits boosted the color as well as the contrast. Of course, I also cropped the image significantly. My process for editing this photo is slightly different than my process for many of my other photos, just because this photo needed a lot of clarity added. Typically, I hover between zero and thirty for my clarity boosts, even for landscape images, but this photo had no real shadows initially, and a +100 was perhaps the best way to add some. Also, note that this photo was edited using "camera standard" color, not "Adobe standard." I think that the colors are best this way.
As you can see above, I started out the image with three major adjustments, aimed at increasing contrast and creating some shadows: +55 contrast, -36 blacks, +100 clarity. All of these are extreme values in comparison to what I typically use, which goes to show that there is no "standard" setting that works for most landscape images.
Then, I adjusted color. As you can see with the actions above along the left, I changed around the temperature (to make the photo more golden), I increased vibrance (which I prefer over saturation), and I shifted some of the colors slightly (which you can see on the right). I try to avoid shifting anything more than twenty points. Going overboard on this adds color noise and weird gradients to your photos.
Lastly, I cropped the photo how I wanted. I adjusted sharpness and noise reduction slightly, using more extreme noise reduction than typical because of the high clarity value.
That's about it! I made a few minor changes afterwards, but all of these were very subtle. The main adjustments are easy: contrast, then color, then sharpness. Learn how to adjust those three, and you'll be great at post-processing. Subtlety is key!