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How to Create Soft, Dreamy Landscape Images

I think those of us who have gone into business miss taking photos “just for fun.” Obviously, we love our businesses but being able to take the camera and just shoot for yourself is a rare gift. It was one I was grateful to experience during my recent travel to Kansas to visit my husband’s family.

I assumed Kansas would be very flat and very boring but that couldn’t be further from the truth. After a lazy afternoon, we packed the car and headed to the Konza Prairie as our final hurrah. It was so open and breathtakingly beautiful….and the sun was getting ready to set. Pure hour of heaven as I photographed everything.

Here is the last photo of the night, taken as I was running out of light:

007 600x400 How to Create Soft, Dreamy Landscape Images

The entire landscape seemed to glow from the moonlight. But this image did not correctly capture that magical glow. So I worked on getting the magic back in post-processing.

First, I imported the landscape images into Lightroom and made the following corrections:

  • Using MCP Quick Clicks Collection Lightroom Presets I clicked on Blowout Buster Light, Silence the Noise Light (for my 800 ISO), and applied some straightening using the crop tool. I also turned on the correct Lens Profile to remove the lens vignetting. Finally, I selected Best Guess White Balance. With landscape photos, I feel like White Balance and Exposure are often a matter of personal preference (to a degree). I felt like it needed to be a bit warmer.

My last correction in Lightroom involves the clarity slider. With portraits, I tend to avoid overuse of this slider but it’s fair game with landscapes. I moved it almost all the way to the left (-80). You can also accomplish this using the Soften Light, Soften Medium, or Soften Strong with MCP Lightroom Quick Clicks.

Here is what the photo looked like at this point:

006 600x400 How to Create Soft, Dreamy Landscape Images

Then, I imported the photo into Photoshop for some additional editing.

I started my using the One Click Color Photoshop action from the MCP Fusion set:

008 600x400 How to Create Soft, Dreamy Landscape Images

In order to make some more targeted adjustments, I ran the the Heartfelt action from MCP Fusion and adjusted the opacity of Heartfelt to 35% (after turning off the second One Click Color folder). The trees still seemed a bit dark to me, so I used Lighten Up (also from Fusion) to brighten up the trees. I lowered the opacity to 38%. I love Lighten Up because it doesn’t effect the rest of the photo and only targets the areas that are a bit too dark.

Here was the resulting image:

009 600x400 How to Create Soft, Dreamy Landscape Images

Now the tone looks exactly like how I remember it. By using the clarity slider, the treeline softens and the contrails present in the original image gradually fade so they are less prominent.

 

Here is another example from earlier in the day, when the sun was still out. This is the image straight out of camera:

IMG 8635 edited facebook 600x400 How to Create Soft, Dreamy Landscape Images

And here is the image with very similar edits as described above. I think the softening draws more attention to the beautiful silhouette!

IMG 8635 edited 2 facebook 600x400 How to Create Soft, Dreamy Landscape Images

This article was written by Jessica Rotenberg of Jess Rotenberg Photography. She specializes in natural light family and child photography in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can also like her on Facebook.

 How to Create Soft, Dreamy Landscape Images

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