Improperly exposed photos are the bane of all kinds of photographers, especially those who shoot outdoors where a wide range of tones may exceed the density range of your camera. We posted a tutorial earlier today explaining a simple method to remedy this problem by using Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools to make dark areas lighter and light areas dark to arrive at a balanced result.
But pros often use a somewhat more involved approach that offers additional control for avoiding crushed shadows and blown-out highlights, and also enables you to enhance other key variables at the same time. There are a few more steps involved, but in most cases the extra effort pays big dividends.
While we can’t guarantee that you’ll achieve professional-quality photos by following the advice in the tutorial below, it’s a pretty sure bet that your landscape photos will be more compelling than ever before.
Austin James Jackson is a self-taught landscape photographer who regularly shares the tips and tricks he employs for capturing eye-catching landscape imagery. Rather than shooting a single photo, and using Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools to even out tones, Jackson captures multiple images of the same scene a few minutes apart, at different exposures, and merges them during the editing process to create one super shot.
The common approach is to shoot the base image with the exposure setting recommended by the camera, as well as two others—one slightly underexposed and another somewhat overexposed. As Jackson says, you can expect the combined final image to “show off the best light in addition to the best clouds which usually don’t appear at the same time.”
Jackson also promises that whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced photographer, “learning this exposure-blending trick is going to help you elevate your photography to take even better photos.” And the advice you glean is not only appropriate for landscape imagery, but for just about any outdoor images you shoot that have a wide range of tones from deep shadows to bright highlights.
Jackson walks you through his straightforward shooting and editing techniques in less than 15 minutes. We’re pretty sure that after a bit of practice, this will become one of your go-to techniques.
We encourage you to spend some quality time on Jackson’s instructional YouTube channel, especially if landscape photography is your thing, because there are a variety of helpful shooting and editing tips like those you see here.
And don’t forget to watch the tutorial mentioned above, so you can also give dodging and burning a try.