ArchivesEditing Bundle

Editing Dogs in Landscapes

Watch the video tutorial below to edit this image step by step. My process for editing landscapes is a fair bit different to my normal process in that:

  • I don’t shape the light nearly as much
  • I’m a bit more flexible with colour-grading and don’t mind if the dogs get a little coloured
  • I am not obsessing quite as much about drawing attention to the subject (especially through use of light and dark) but instead about creating a balance between the subject and the landscape
  • I may use self-created presets for series of images taken in the same landscape with similar lighting, to speed up the process
  • I make more use of the HSL panel, and the colour grading panel in LR/ACR than I normally do.
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Beware the glow!

Often, when editing our landscape photos, we need to quite dramatically darken the sky, while brightening our subject. Depending on how you do this, it can quite quickly create a glowing white halo around your subjects. If you’re using the adjustment brush to adjust exposures, this glow will be larger and soft. If you’re using “select subject”, it’s likely to be smaller and sharper.

It’s difficult to get rid of this glow without spending a lot of time very precisely adjusting your masks. Therefore I recommend gradually fading your exposure adjustments, using radial filters in a not-too-specific way, and avoiding as much as possible big exposure adjustments between subject and background. Not always possible! 

One way to see the glow is to zoom right out on your photo and look at it thumbnail size. And make sure you come back to it with fresh eyes later on!

Check your masks

Similar to “beware the glow”, do a good, thorough check of your masks if you’re darkening the sky and brightening your subjects, especially if you’re using a “Select Subject” tool. Often, it can miss small bits and pieces (see below example!) and these can look very strange and out of place!

Watch out as well that the new masking features don’t just blur furry parts of your subject, or parts where some fur meets the background and it has a hard time finding the edges. You will want to fix these masks up.

Below: before & after. If you see these blurry edges, just use the brush tool to either add or remove the effect from where it’s blurry.

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Dreaming in Green: Full Tutorial

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This was such a fun little edit! Making a panorama, taking our overly bright photo and deepening those greens, working through so many of my normal process.

Make sure you download the 4 raw files from above. To take this photo, I used my panorama technique which I cover in depth in the Learning Journey. But in this case, I’d gotten a bit too close to Hijinx as I’d only JUST gotten into position but hadn’t framed up the photo yet, and was expecting him to look toward me, when he looked so beautifully to the side and into this lighter, open space. 

I could either forgo the shot and move backward/change my perspective to be lower, and wait for him to look at me to have better composition…

Or I could take the photo with the perfect gazing direction and expression, and take extra photos of the scene to “build out” later in editing. So, that’s what we’re going to do. 

Make sure you check out the step by step editing process that accompanies this video, but remember! You don’t have to do the exact settings as me, with the exact numbers. 

Hanging in a Branch

This is a bit of an older tutorial now, before Adobe updated the masking functions, so it’s still using just single radials. 

That being said, the process is still pretty much what I would use today:

  • curves layers to darken below and lighten above, creating a spotlight, shaping light
  • selective colour layers to shift the greens, and the browns (in a later edit of this image I actually made the background green – you can see it below. I felt like Journey with his red coat stands out better against green)
  • using gradients with soft light blend mode
  • fixing colour-casts
  • normal dodge and burn
  • removing distractions & bits and pieces
  • adding catchlights to quite dark eyes, where the catchlight was very small
Below: original edit with red/brown background, and updated edit with green.
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Edit Together: Snow

In this edit together, we have the option of several photos to edit. If you want to participate in the vote as to which one we’ll work on, make sure you go to the Learning Community and cast your vote in our poll! Click here to vote!

*If you don’t have access to the LC, why not?!!? Click here to join.

The aim of this session will be:

  • to use Lightroom to work on the RAW file initially, especially for Loki who is quite underexposed
  • Start with a pretty neutral white balance
  • Some of these photos have ISO 2000 so there’s some noise to deal with
  • Some of them have quite dark eyes, snow eyes, and/or no catchlights, so we’ll be working through that
  • Going into PS – image 1 requires us to build a panorama so we would be doing that first
  • Shaping the light with snow. When/how/how much
  • Colour-grading. Do we make it more magical and blue/magenta? Or keep it more flat and neutral?
  • Any other special effects? Overlays?
  • Dodge and burn
  • And of course answering questions as we go.


Basic Editing Process & Rationale: Start here!

The Process & Steps

A lot of people ask for tutorials in various situations, and while I have tried to create (and will continue creating) a variety of different tutorials, at the end of the day, most of my tutorials follow the same, basic process and workflow.

Below, I’ve listed most of the steps that I follow… however, I don’t follow EVERY step in EVERY photo. You will need to know your way around Lightroom & Lightroom masking features, and know how to mask in Photoshop in order to follow this tutorial. 

Generally, the workflow is:

  • Adjust White Balance in Lightroom
  • Slight Global adjustments to lower highlights and raise shadows
  • Remove fringing if needed
  • Maybe change HSL if there are strong greens
  • Selective editing in Lightroom using radial filters to:
    • Brighten the dog
    • Add clarity and texture to the dog
    • Work on the eyes as a whole, catchlights separately, darken pupils if needed
    • Remove colour casts
    • Lower distractions in the scene, eg., bright highlights, too dark areas, too colourful areas and so on
  • Moving into Photoshop as a smart object, creating a New Smart Object via Copy
  • Doing any “fixing”/tidying up with clone stamp, healing spot brush, composition changes (generally not cropping in yet unless very sure!), fixing/brushing over bright highlights and so on
    • Any kind of blur effects (rarely used, but sometimes to make the bokeh a bit “melty”)
    • High pass filter for sharpening
    • Bring in other layers to make a panorama
    • Copy & Flip background if needed
    • Content aware fill, content aware crop, etc (rasterised version of our original layer needed)
  • Shape the light using curves layers, depending on the original light direction, where the dog is looking, and composition of the image
  • Colour grading using selective colour layers, maybe a gradient layer
  • Finishing touches” which could but must not always include:
    • Gradients on radial to create separation from the background
    • Dodge and burn/contouring using curves layers
    • Remove colour casts on the dog
    • Fix distractions eg., too much saturation in areas
    • Adding more contrast
    • Adding more drama
    • Adding overlays
  • Save and return to Lightroom to check the histogram and make sure I’ve used the whole light range (unless it’s a specifically dark and dangerous photo)
    • Raise exposure a little if needed
    • Add denoise if needed

Backlit Journey

This tutorial will take you from start to finish editing a slightly under-exposed, backlit photo of Journey. 

In order to do this tutorial, you’ll want:

  • a decent knowledge of Photoshop basics, eg., masking, adjustment layers and so on
  • A decent knowledge of Lightroom, eg., radial filters

This techniques in this tutorial will work best with:

  • backlit photos, with even lighting on the dog’s face
  • slightly under-exposed photos, but it’s ok if you have some blown-out highlights
  • photos with some kind of natural “shape” to the foreground and background (eg., not on an open field).
Remember: Not all editing tutorials will work on all photos. The key is to take the rationale and reasoning behind when and why to make certain edits, and consider if that applies to the photo you are working on. While my process and my steps are very similar from photo to photo, an underexposed backlit photo will require different ways of working to a brighter forest-green photo.

Since this is one of my favourite photos, it’s one I would prefer that edits do not get posted on social media. 

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Golden Heather

In this tutorial using Lightroom & Photoshop and following most of my normal process, we are going to work on a well-exposed photo of Luke, a red merle Australian Shepherd.

You will need decent knowledge of Lightroom & using radial filters, as well of how to use masks and adjustment layers in Photoshop. 

In this tutorial we will:

  • Set the white balance
  • Talk about my Lightroom process & goals
  • Work on distractions
  • Bring detail & light to the dog
  • Flip the image and extend the canvas
  • Add some gaussian blur to an area of cloned heather, to make it fit in better
  • Use curves layers to shape the light and add richness to the colours
  • Use a selective colour layer to bring out those rich orange tones
  • Use a combination of colour balance and a radial gradient to enhance the purple (you don’t have to make it QUITE as purple, if it’s not your thing).
  • Add a gradient behind Luke for a little bit of extra background separation
  • Remove some colours from his chest (note: not all!)
  • Dodge and burn/contouring using curves layers.
  • Final touches in Lightroom by checking the histogram.

Note: I probably wouldn’t (and didn’t!) give my client the flipped version of the photo. Why?

Because Luke has two VERY distinctive sides to his face, with his mismatched eyes and mismatched ears, and I want the photo to properly represent him, rather than flowing more comfortable. For social media though, I’ll post the flipped version. 

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Editing Pets & People: Ike & Cecilia Tutorial

in this tutorial we’re going to work on this photo of Ike & Cecilia, cuddling in the green woods.

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You are welcome to edit along, but I’ll ask you not to share this one on social media! Thanks!

After I finished recording, I went and cooled down the image a bit, as it finished feeling a bit too yellow/warm for me. Other than that I don’t think I changed anything afterwards.

In the Green: Beginner-Friendly Editing Tutorial

This tutorial takes place on Lightroom only, and discusses with some emphasis making editing choices or having an editing rationale, rather than blindly following a tutorial. 

This tutorial will work best if you have explored around Lightroom before, even if you aren’t totally comfortable using it.

We will discuss:

  • what our goals are in editing
  • various methods to set the white balance
  • using the global adjustment panel
  • removing chromatic aberration/fringing
  • using masking, especially radial gradients
  • creating a soft glow behind the dog
  • briefly looking at the clone/heal tool
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