Want Sharp & Contrast-Rich Travel & Nature Photos? Here’s How It’s Done (VIDEO)

Sometime you capture a nice travel, nature, or landscape scene that could benefit from a boost in sharpness and contrast. The trick is to pump up the image without ending up with an overcooked look. You see how to do this is the quick video below.

Christian Möhrle is a successful landscape photographer based in Southern Germany, and in barely 11 minutes he demonstrates how to process a rather flat photo, warm it up a bit for a golden hour look, and give it some punch while retaining a natural appearance.

Möhrle begins with an image of a castle he photographed not far from home. What he envisioned for this edit was plenty of contrast between a dark blue sky and the castle. He also wanted to accentuate the water in the foreground, refine the framing, and clean up a few distracting elements and sensor spots. These are exactly the types of enhancements we frequently contend with when shooting outdoors.

Möhrle makes a few basic adjustments by warming up the image, adding some texture and clarity, dropping the highlights, and increasing the shadows. With the image already looking better, he then makes local adjustments to darken the sky using two differently placed graduated filters.

The next step is to accentuate the water, which he does by adding another graduated filter and a bit more clarity, and creating a glow effect in just the right spot. His color adjustments include boosting the orange and green tones and decreasing the blue luminance of the sky. To create a split-tone effect he warms up the highlights and cools down the shadows.

All that’s left is a bit of cleanup using the Healing Brush, a bit of dodging and burning, and a couple final color adjustments. Compare the before and after shots and judge for yourself.

After watching the tutorial head over to Möhrle’s YouTube channel for more helpful tips. And be sure to check out another editing tutorial we posted recently, explaining a simple focus stacking technique for mind-blowing depth of field.