Given a choice, most outdoor photographers prefer to shoot at the beginning or end of the day. At Blue Hour, just before sunrise, the landscape is bathed in soft, cool tones, while at Golden Hour, just after sunset, beautiful warm tones prevail.
The problem, of course, is we often arrive at a location during other times of the day, and confront bland mid-morning light or the harsh, overly contrasty scenes of afternoon. Fortunately, as you’ll see in the quick tutorial below, it’s possible transform an unappealing photo made in poor light into something truly special.
This episode from our friends at Phlog Photography begins with a seaside panoramic photo that some folks might accept as is. It’s a beautiful scene, and the base image looks pretty good, with an accurate exposure and a histogram that’s almost perfect. So what’s the problem? Drab, boring light.
You don’t want to settle for “decent,” and neither did instructor Christian Mohrle, whose goal for this amazing Lightroom transformation is to give the image an inviting Golden Hour look, with warmer colors and greater contrast. Being the perfectionist that he is, Mohrle finishes the job in Photoshop by straightening the horizon and cleaning up a few distractions.
Mohrle’s standard approach to processing his work involves a three-step progression: First he makes a few basic adjustments to the overall file, followed by local adjustments to selective portions of the scene. His final step is thoughtful color grading, depending upon he look he’s after.
As you’ll see, the panoramic demonstration image was made by combining several vertical shots. Mohrle briefly discusses this process and provides a link to an earlier video where you can find complete details.
There are shooting and editing tips on Mohrle’s YouTube channel, so be sure to pay a visit.
And if you’re interested in long-exposure photography, but can’t afford expensive ND filters, check out our recent tutorial on how to get the job done.