Editing Landscape Images Using Actions in Photoshop

Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™

Editing Landscape Images Using Actions in Photoshop

At the beginning of June, I attended a Photography gathering in Banff, which is in Alberta, Canada. It was absolutely breathtaking.  Snow covered mountain tops everywhere.  And since I live in Michigan, it wasn’t like anything I get to see often.

I took this shot from the hotel.  Yes, this really was our view! This photo is beautiful, but the trees in the foreground were dark and the photo lacked contrast.

Mountains in Banff Canada

Above is the original photo, straight out of camera.  It just needed a lift.

Here are steps I took to get from the before to the after using Photoshop actions and layer masks.

  1. To enhance the color of the sky, I used “Sky is Bluer Illusion” – a Photoshop action that makes blue skies even bluer. This is included in the Bag of Tricks action set. It was way too intense for the look I wanted so I adjusted the opacity to 34%.  I could have created a really crazy, intense blue sky otherwise, but I still wanted it to look real.
  2. I wanted some contrast, but with flat photos like this it’s very hard to add contrast. What happens usually… the dark areas get even darker, almost like a blob. So, I needed to just affect the mid-tones.  I used “Magical Clarity” from the Bag of Tricks set – this action adds mid-tone contrast in Photoshop.
  3. I did not love the color of the trees in this image.  I felt they were too deep green.  I used the “Grass is Greener” action from the Bag of Tricks, to paint on a richer, more vibrant color green. The layer opacity was at 67%, but I only painted the green on at 16%. The effect was subtle, but added to the photo.
  4. The last things I wanted to do all had to deal with lightening and darkening. The tree area looked too dark. I fixed this by using “Peek-a-Boo” from the Complete Workflow set.  This action finds the shadow areas and lightens them. I lowered the opacity of this layer to 64%.
  5. Then I used the free Photoshop action, “Touch of Light/Touch of Darkness” to finish the photo. With the lightness layer selected, and using a low opacity brush, I painted on the trees, one side of each to add dimension. Then with the darkness layer selected, I painted on the sky to deepen the color a bit.

The whole edit took about 3 minutes. And the result is below:

using actions in photoshop for blue sky

Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™
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  1. August 18, 2010 at 11:04 am —

    Banff–that was my backyard growing up! I’m glad you enjoyed it there. Now I live in Florida, but I just returned from taking my kids back to Alberta. Always love your tutorials, especially this one!

  2. August 15, 2010 at 11:04 pm —

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! I live in Alaska and take lots of landscapes and have been wondering how to make them look better! I already have these actions, so I’m going to try them out on a landscape right away!

  3. Rachael
    August 13, 2010 at 4:37 pm —

    Thanks for telling us your thought processes during your edit. It makes all the difference. I love all your tutorials!

  4. August 13, 2010 at 11:51 am —

    Perfect timing on this article! I’ve been editing stuff from my trip to Glacier National Park last week and I can definitely use these tips!

  5. August 13, 2010 at 11:01 am —

    Wow. All I can say is wow! It’s gorgeous.

  6. August 13, 2010 at 10:05 am —

    great article! I’ve been doing landscape all week with fog and overcast flat skies, and have been having a hard time editing!

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Editing Landscape Images Using Actions in Photoshop