How to Enhance Dull Outdoor Photos in Photoshop (VIDEO)

There are times when photos of a beautiful outdoor scene appear flat and dull, and that could be due to bad light, incorrect camera settings, or a myriad of other problems. You can always return on a better day, with your camera configured properly, but why do that if you can transform an unimpressive image into something really special with a few quick adjustments in Photoshop?

This tutorial from The Phlog Photography instructional YouTube channel demonstrates a simple color grading process that you’ll find yourself using regularly to make disappointing images really POP. It’s a very effective technique that does wonders for all sorts of outdoor photos.

German landscape pro Christian Mohrle walks you through the method he uses for such occasions in barely 13 minutes. Before clicking the “play” button we encourage you to download the sample image in the description beneath the video so you can make the adjustments yourself as he explains how it’s done.

Mohrle’s goal in the episode is to turn a flat seaside photo into a vibrant sunset image with a minimum of fuss. If you’ve watched Mohrle’s videos in the past, you know that he always starts with a few basic adjustments to make the image look as good as possible for the key enhancements that follow.

For this shot he begins in the Camera Raw editor to get the simple stuff out of the way. The image is a bit skewed, and he quickly aligns crooked verticals using tools found in the Geometry tab. He then changes the profile to Adobe Landscape which immediately provides nice base saturation.

Next come a few adjustments in Photoshop’s Basic tab. He increases White Balance temperature to warm up the tones, eliminates a magenta colorcast, and adjusts exposure for more details in the shadows.

After a few other basic adjustments Mohrle turns to the meat of the tutorial which involves straightforward masking to selectively enhance color in various portions of the scene. After a bit of sharpening, and a final tweak to the colors, the impressive transformation is complete.

You can find more shooting and editing tips on Mohrle’s popular YouTube channel—all designed to improve your outdoor photography.

And be sure to check out the recent tutorial we posted from another landscape photography expert, explaining why UV filters hurt more than they help when shooting outdoors.