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5 Tips for editing nature photography to take beautiful photos in seconds

The post 5 tips for editing nature photography to take beautiful pictures in seconds appeared first at Digital Photography School. It is written by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you ever have the feeling that your nature photos are just a little … meh? As if they could use something more?

nature photography editing tips

It is a common problem. Because while you can be a master of light, composition and camera settings, there is still one thing you need for great nature photography:

Editing.

You see, editing is how you make your nature photo ' s shine. It's how you add a final touch to your images. It's how you make a somewhat boring image and turn it into something truly stunning.

In this article I will share tips for editing nature photography with you so that you know exactly how you can make amazing adaptations of nature photography.

And you will get away with the ability to enhance all your nature photos.

Sounds good?

Let's start.

nature photography editing tips

1. Straighten and crop to emphasize your main subject

First things first:

If your nature photo is skewed …

… then it just doesn't work. No matter how great the content is.

(This is primarily a problem for landscape photos, where skewed horizons are very clear.)

You see, a crooked photo is simply disorienting. It causes the viewer to become entangled in imbalance and make them forget everything about the subject.

So the first thing to do to improve your nature photos:

Check if your photo is straight. And if it isn't, straighten out! Almost every photo editing program offers straightening tools, so use it.

I held this swan photo in my hand, so I had to straighten it a bit:

5 Tips for editing nature photography to take beautiful photos in seconds

After you straighten your photo, it's time to think about cropping.

If you have now carefully composed the camera, you do not necessarily have to crop. But it's easy to miss something small while looking through the viewfinder. Maybe some leaves are hanging in the corner of the frame!

In which case:

Crop!

By removing distractions, you generally make your photo stronger. You also need to trim to improve your composition. For example, you can crop something to place your main subject on a line of the third grid line.

Or you can crop to place a symmetrical subject in the center of the image as follows:

5 Tips for editing nature photography to take beautiful photos in seconds

In short, think of trimming as a second, more measured chance of composing.

Use it to nail the perfect final composition. But don't think you have to crop every time a photo appears. And try to get the composition into the camera.

After all, crops automatically reduce the resolution!

2. Drop the blacks and the whites up to add interest

If you think your nature photos look a bit flat, you may have a common problem:

Low contrast.

Photos with a low contrast are generally not interested. There is no clear difference between the subject and the background, so it seems as if the entire shot goes together.

Fortunately, this can be solved fairly easily with a little post-processing!

In the first place, every photo editing program offers a contrast slider. For a quick and dirty operation, go ahead and raise this slider.

However, I would go for something more checked.

In Lightroom, for example, I like to use the adjustment sliders to drop the blacks and enlarge the white, as I did for this photo:

nature photography editing tips

You can also use the tone curve function to create a nice S-shape that gives the same effect.

If my image has a fairly low contrast to begin with, I add a touch of contrast and then leave it that way.

But if my image already has many light and dark shades, I would like to push the contrast further. This is especially the case when I take black and white photos.

That's why I add to the blacks until the deepest shadows almost lose detail. And I raise the white until the brightest parts of the photo are almost cut off.

3. Clean up your subject with a little Healing or Cloning

Now it's time for some careful adjustments.

You see, many subjects in nature photography could use some cleaning up. Because they tend to have dirt or stains that disrupt the overall appearance of the photo.

For example, I often clean up my flower photos. Insects chew holes in the petals or the ends of the flowers begin to wilt. And if I left these elements behind, they would simply distract from the total shot.

5 Tips for editing nature photography to take beautiful photos in seconds

If you are a bird photographer, consider cleaning up the environment of the bird. There are often stray branches on photos of forest birds. There is often dirty sand and distracting shells in pictures of coastal birds.

On the other hand, I would not be in favor of changing your topic thoroughly. I like to display nature as close to reality as possible. And that means stopping myself from deeply changing my subject.

Generally I use Lightroom's excellent healing tool to remove these stains. But every cloning program will do the job. It just requires a little more work.

4. Simplify the palette with Color Adjustments

In nature photography I advocate simplicity:

Simpler shots are generally the best.

But that does not only apply to composition. It also applies to color.

In other words, for a stunning photo, you must try to limit the number of colors that you record. One color works great. Two is fun. Three is good. Four reaches the top edge.

Then the colors add a sense of chaos to the scene, and that is exactly what you are do not want.

Fortunately, you can work on simplifying your color palette after you take your shots.

5 Tips for editing nature photography to take beautiful photos in seconds

All you have to do is use the color adjustment sliders. In Lightroom these are the adjustments for hue, saturation and brightness (HSL).

Here are a few ways you can simplify your colors:

First, you can desaturate all the colors that you want to emphasize and saturate all the colors that you want to come out.

Secondly, you can change the shades of different colors to look more like them. For example, you can make green a little bluer and blue a little greener, so that everything tends towards a balanced middle color.

Thirdly, you can darken problematic color spots. If you have a splash of orange in the background that you simply don't like, you can roll it back by simply darkening the oranges.

Unfortunately, there is no set formula for working with color adjustments. But I always advise you to keep in mind a goal for the photo: simplicity.

5 Tips for editing nature photography to take beautiful photos in seconds

And I must note: it is easy to exaggerate color adjustments so that you get an exaggerated, supersaturated scene. I suggest that you always check your color edits the day after you finish, and make sure the edits still seems logical.

That way you know for sure that you didn't put things overboard.

5 Tips for editing nature photography to take beautiful photos in seconds

5. Use a subtle Split Tone to give a polished look

Here is your latest advice for post processing nature photography:

Use (subtle) split tones!

Now split tones are a bit complex:

Allows you to choose a color to add to the shadows of the image and a color to add to the highlights of your image.

For example, you can add a yellow to the highlights and make the white of the image appear very warm:

5 Tips for editing nature photography to take beautiful photos in seconds

You can then add a blue to the shadows and make the dark parts of the image look very cold:

nature photography editing tips

Splitting yellow / blue is actually very common in the cinema, because the warm / cold contrast makes the images more attractive.

You don't want to split the tone in nature photography like in the cinema. The purpose of split-tone nature photography is to subtly improve the colors.

So this is what you have to do:

When you're done with your main editing, go to the split options in your editing software. This is not an operation offered by every post-processing package, so check if you can do something.

Then simply play around with the split tone options. Be careful to keep things fairly minimal. You do not want to change the colors of the photo. You want something subtle.

The splitting yellow lights, blue shadows is one that works fairly consistently, so it's something that I recommend.

But feel free to experiment with many split-tone options.

And choose the one you like best for a beautiful finishing touch!

5 tips for editing nature photography to create stunning images in seconds: next steps

Editing nature photography is exactly what you need to enhance your photos.

So I suggest that you have a consistent post-processing workflow that allows you to make optimum use of your photos.

nature photography editing tips

This way you really create a polished nature photography portfolio.

Which editing step for nature photography do you find most useful? Let me know in the comments right now!

5-nature-photography-editing-tips

The post 5 tips for editing nature photography to take beautiful pictures in seconds appeared first at Digital Photography School. It is written by Jaymes Dempsey.

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