Enhance Bland Sunset Photos with This Photoshop Edit (VIDEO)

Sunrises and sunsets are among the most popular scenes for avid landscape photographers. Early morning images usually have ephemeral soft blue tones, while sunsets typically display striking yellows, oranges and reds.

But what if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate and you’re faced with an uninteresting bland scene? Instead of returning on a “better day,” we suggest making a few shots and transforming them into something special during post processing.

Today’s tutorial deals with sunsets, and demonstrates a straightforward Photoshop edit for enhancing colors and giving boring images the vibrant tones they deserve. We think you'll be surprised by the results.

Christian Mohrle is a German landscape photographer whose lessons are very popular with Shutterbug readers because of his knack for simplifying seemingly complicated tasks. His goal in the video below is to transform a drab, gray sunset image by modifying colors, adding stronger warm tones, and introducing a bit of glow.

Before you hit the Play button we suggest downloading Mohrle’s sample image in the description beneath the video so you can follow along and make the changes yourself in real time. His first step is changing the profile to Adobe landscape, which immediately increases saturation.

He then makes a few basic enhancements to the overall image by adjusting while balance, bringing up highlights and shadows, and adding Texture and Vibrance. Next he does some simple masking with two linear gradients over the sky, and another over the foreground. He accomplishes the Glow effect with a thin radial gradient above the horizon.

All that’s left is color grading (and some final cleanup of distracting elements). In the HSL window he reduces yellow to enhance the oranges, while dropping green and aqua tones to get the effect he’s after. To make colors even more intense he employs split toning to warm up the highlights and cool off midtones and shadows.

Pretty nice, right? You can find other effective editing tips on Mohrle’s YouTube channel, so be sure to take a look.

If you’re not a Photoshop user take a look at the earlier tutorial we posted, explaining how to fix dull landscape photos with a unique effect in Lightroom.