Use Simple Lightroom Masks for Nature Photos with Dramatic Light (VIDEO)

If your landscape photos lack the impact, color and drama you envision—and you're not sure what to do—the tutorial below from the PHLOG Photography YouTube channel is just what you need. In this quick video you'll learn a straightforward Lightroom technique for transforming good images into great ones.

Instructor Christian Mohrle is a professional landscape photographer and image-editing expert. Today he demonstrates simple masking techniques, beginning with this promise: "This is how you can shape the light of your photos in Lightroom to make them POP!"

We recommend downloading his sample Raw file with the link beneath the video so you can follow along as the steps are explained. Mohrle uses "a ton of masks" to achieve a dramatic contrast-rich result. Don't let that intimidate you, through, because this method doesn't require super-advanced skills.

Mohrle begins with several quick adjustments to set up a base image for what follows; a preliminary step he says is necessary before you can effectively shape light. He first shifts the profile from Adobe Color to Adobe Standard, and then adjusts White Balance to warm up the shot, carefully drops exposure, and brings up the blacks for more details in the darkest areas of the photo.

Mohrle also adds clarity and texture for a sharper look. The last initial step is increasing Vibrance to pump up the color. Take look at the before/after images and you'll notice a significant difference.

Now it's time for the real magic to begin by opening Lightroom's Masking panel. As we mentioned at the onset, Mohrle use a variety of masks to make selective adjustments to different portions of the scene.

The benefit of this approach, apart from the compelling transformation, is that you'll learn how easy it is to employ most of the Masking and Gradient tools available in Lightroom to fine-tune color, contrast, exposure and more to fix whatever was missing in the images you found disappointing in the past.

Once the masking is complete, the edit concludes with simple color grading and a bit more sharpening. Mohrle's popular YouTube channel is full of lessons on editing landscape photos to perfection, so be sure to pay a visit.

We also suggest watching the earlier tutorial we posted from another image-processing expert, explaining a fast and precise editing technique for blurring distracting backgrounds in outdoor photographs.