How to Boost Photos with Dramatic Weather (VIDEO)

One of the most exciting aspects of landscape photography is that we're never sure what to expect from Mother Nature. Sometimes calm, sunny days quickly transform into  dark and foreboding scenarios with threatening clouds and other eye-popping atmospherics that make for awesome imagery.

Unfortunately, our results don't always match the impact of what we saw through the viewfinder, and that's usually because we didn't nail exposure. Other times there seems to be a promise of dramatic weather that fails to materialize no matter how long we wait.

In either case, there are post-processing techniques that will significantly enhance the impact of a shot—either by accentuating photos captured on a stormy day or by creating the appearance of dramatic weather when none really existed. This tutorial from the PHLOG Photography YouTube channel demonstrates how to give Mother Nature a helping hand with a few simple adjustments in Lightroom.

Instructor Christin Mohrle is a very accomplished landscape pro from Germany, and he includes a link to the sample Raw files so you can follow along and mimic his 12-minute process as the steps are explained. He's working with a panoramic image, so he begins by explaining how to merge eight photos he made of the scene.

Next come a few basic global adjustments to prepare his merged image for the selective enhancements that follow. He changes the profile from Adobe Color to Adobe Standard which immediately lessens contrast. Then he slightly drops overall exposure, further cuts highlights to accentuate details in the sky, and slightly increases the blacks.

After a few more simple tweaks the fun part begins, using masks to make selective adjustments to pump up drama in various portions of the shot—particularly in the sky where he creates a very ominous effect. His description of this process is a good refresher for the next time you employ masks for other types of edits.

The transformation concludes with careful sharpening and simple color grading. A quick glance at Mohrle's before/after images confirms the power of this quick technique. There's much more to learn about shooting and editing landscape images on Mohrle's instructional YouTube channel so be sure to pay a visit.

We also suggest watching the tutorial we featured with another accomplished pro who explains why the f/stop you choose has a huge impact on the look of your photographs, and how to select the best aperture for various situations.