5 Lightroom Edits That Will Rock Your Outdoor Photography

By JasenkaG / December 6, 2018

No matter if you’re shooting landscapes or portraits, it seems that almost all outdoor photographs suffer from the same disease when they come out of the camera.

The most common issues you’ll face almost every time you shoot something outdoors are overly bright skies, foregrounds that are too dark and a general lack of contrast and vibrancy.

While these things seem like serious issues, they can be fixed in Lightroom quite easily. It’s actually surprising how much creative editing can be done in Lightroom without having to use Photoshop.

The following five tips can surely speed up and enhance your editing workflow when it comes to outdoors photographs:

1. Check the highlights and shadows

Issues with highlights and shadows are among the most common ones in outdoors photography because we can’t control the natural light.

Because of this, every photographer should develop the ability to quickly recognize overexposed and underexposed parts of the image and fix them.

An easy way to do this is to take a quick look at the histogram. For instance, if your histogram in the Develop module in Lightroom is smashing up against the right wall, your highlights are overblown. On the other hand, if your histogram pushes to the far left, you probably need to bring up the shadows.

You should also know that decreasing the highlights can help you add more detail to the sky – this is quite important in landscapes!

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

2. Remove the Noise

If you happen to shoot models or landscapes in low light, chances are you’ll have to deal with noise, especially if you’re not using any additional lights.

Depending on your camera’s ISO capabilities and the settings you used, there might be some noise in the image. The amount of noise you want to keep in your image is totally a personal preference, but it’s something to consider when editing your portraits.

If you want to drop the noise, you just need to head to the detail tab in Lightroom and look for the luminance slider under the noise header. Preserving some noise in outdoors portraits can look appealing because some slight grain can give a certain vintage vibe.

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

3. Use White Balance, Colour And Hue Properly

One question you should always ask yourself when shooting people or landscapes is ’what feeling do I want this photo to convey?’

Despite the fact that you’re shooting outdoors and using natural light, you can still alter the colours to depict exactly what you envisioned.

If you want to achieve a warm and cosy vibe, you should definitely stick to warmer colour hues. In case you want something intense or gloomy, you might need to consider cooler colours. You can also create an interesting vintage vibe if you experiment with split toning options in Lightroom.

In case you like the original colours and you just want to enhance them a little bit, you can simply pull the vibrance slider to the right. This slider is designed to focus on colours that are less saturated and it lets you increase the overall saturation of your colours without overdoing any of them.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

4. Increase The Contrast And Clarity

Lack of contrast and too much contrast are common issues in outdoor photography and they occur whenever lighting conditions are less than ideal.

If you want to increase the contrast in your photo, you should simply pull the contrast slider to the right a little bit. You shouldn’t go too far, because it will make your image look unnatural or you will lose a lot of detail.

Another thing you can do to make your image pop is to increase the clarity in Lightroom. You can pull the clarity slider to the right to add some edge contrast to your photo and make it appear less soft. A small to moderate increase in clarity usually makes the photo look sharper and clearer.

Photo by Larm Rham on Unsplash

5. Decrease The Luminance Of The Blues

You have surely noticed that many outdoors photos taken on a bright sunny day have overly bright skies. This issue usually ruins the entire photo, no matter how good it is in terms of composition.

There are two ways to deal with this – you can start using polarizing filters or you can learn some useful tricks in Lightroom. In the best case scenario, you can combine these two strategies for optimal results.

In order to fix bright skies in Lightroom, you should go to the blue slider (under the colour header) and make sure the luminance tab is selected just above the colours. When you decrease the luminance of the blues in your picture, this will make the colour of your sky a deeper, richer blue. Simple as that!

Photo by Aniket Deole on Unsplash

You should see a vast improvement in your outdoors photos after applying these 5 simple tips. In case you’d like to learn more about editing landscapes and outdoor portraits, you can check out the following links!

Further Resources:

  1. The Best Filters For Great Landscapes
  2. What Photographers Should Know About Daylight When Shooting Outdoors
  3. 7 Tips For Shooting Models Outdoors
  4. How To Photograph Children Outdoors
  5. 7 Tips For Shooting Outdoors In Overcast Conditions


About the author


Jasenka is our web designer and one of our content writers. She has 10 years of experience when it comes to writing and 5 years of experience in graphic and web design. She was one of the designers at Qode Interactive who worked on developing Bridge WordPress theme, a best-seller at ThemeForest. At the moment, she develops new products for Light Stalking and takes care of everything related to design. In addition to that, Jasenka is a freelance photographer who’s dedicated to portraiture and event photography. She attended Hudson Valley college in Albany, NY where she got her degree in digital media and participated in local exhibitions with her photography and digital artworks. She also worked at Albany Center Gallery as an event photographer. She is currently based in Belgrade, Serbia.

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