A simple trick for shooting and editing landscapes and sunsets.

Cornfield Sunset - Capturing the movement of the cornfield at sunset. Taken on a lovely warm summers evening in Yorkshire. A very British view (no it doesn't always rain).

Here is a simple trick you can use when shooting and editing landscapes/seascapes if you don’t have graduated filters. This trick works really well when shooting sunsets too. You might know that using graduated filters can help you when dealing with a great range of lighting conditions, but what if you don’t have any or you are traveling light, like I do often?

Well all is not lost, as long as you are ready to think in advance and do a bit of quite simple post editing?

Here is a before and after comparison of the the work…

 

So what did I do to achieve this? The setting was perfect but to expose the field well and the sky was my challenge. This is where the thinking in advance comes into it. Rather than take one shot take two, in the first shot expose the foreground correctly, and in the second expose the sky correctly. Of course this works best if using a tripod. Here you see my two shots taken at the scene.

1st Shot - Scene exposed correctly for the corn field, but the sky is overexposed.
1st Shot – Scene exposed correctly for the corn field, but the sky is overexposed. Exif Data: iso100 – 22mm – f9 – 1/20 – 0exp adjustment
2nd Shot - Scene exposed correctly for the sky. I just dropped the exposure by -2 on this. Most cameras have the exposure compensation feature which will let you adjust the exposure.
2nd Shot – Scene exposed correctly for the sky. I just dropped the exposure by -2 on this. Most cameras have the exposure compensation feature which will let you adjust the exposure. Exif  Data: iso100 – 22mm – f9 – 1/80 – -2exp adjustment

There you have it as simple as that, now simply blend the picture in PhotoShop. What, wait I hear you say? You can’t stop there! Oh ok, you want to know how to do the editing bit then…

As I might have said before I use Lightroom and Photoshop CC for all my post processing work, so the rest will show you how to do it with those tools.

Step 1 - Export your 2 images as layers from Lightroom to Photoshop.
Step 1 – Export your 2 images as layers from Lightroom to Photoshop.
Step 2 - Now you have your layers in Photoshop ready for editing.
Step 2 – Now you have your layers in Photoshop ready for editing.
Step 3 - If not taken on a tripod you can now align your images, Photoshop has a tool for this. Make sure both layers are selected then click on the 'move tool'. From the menu at the top select the 'Auto-Align Layers' option to let Photoshop align your layers.
Step 3 – If not taken on a tripod you can now align your images, Photoshop has a tool for this. Make sure both layers are selected then click on the ‘move tool’. From the menu at the top select the ‘Auto-Align Layers’ option to let Photoshop align your layers.
Step 4 - Now select the top layer, then click on the 'Add Layer Mask' option
Step 4 – Now select the top layer, then click on the ‘Add Layer Mask’ option
Step 5 - This will have given you a layer mask on your top layer, click on it to select it.
Step 5 – This will have given you a layer mask on your top layer, click on it to select it.
Step 6 - Now on the left tool panel, select the 'Gradient Tool'.
Step 6 – Now on the left tool panel, select the ‘Gradient Tool’.
Step 7 - Now with the gradient tool, draw where your want your gradient to be and how long and what direction. I wanted to emulate a hard grad filter with this, so as you will see, I have draw quite a short line, this will produce quite a hard transition between layers. Have a play and see what this does.
Step 7 – Now with the gradient tool, draw where your want your gradient to be and how long and what direction. I wanted to emulate a hard grad filter with this, so as you will see, I have draw quite a short line, this will produce quite a hard transition between layers. Have a play and see what this does.
Step 8 - The result, as you can now see, I now have the sky exposed how I want with the field exposed correctly too.
Step 8 – The result, as you can now see, I now have the sky exposed how I want with the field exposed correctly too.

Once you have got this far and you have the end result you require, you can then save it back into Lightroom and continue your normal processing routine.

For me on this shot that included, slight cropping, boosting the colours, and bringing out the details even more.

Hope this might have given you a little help, any questions then simply comment below.

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