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Mountains Edit

Lesson 8 from: Mastering Lightroom Classic & Photoshop Fundamentals

Andrew Kearns

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Lesson Info

8. Mountains Edit

Andrew demonstrates how he will sometimes intentionally underexpose an image drastically so that in editing he has maximum flexibility.

Lesson Info

Mountains Edit

So this image I didn't edit in VSCO because it is a very complicated image. You have a lot of varied light going on, shadows, sun beams, distant mountains that are different exposure value and you have a bright sky going on. It's a lot going on on this one. And you'll notice here too, I took off the constrained image because, I'll show you with it on real quick. That's a little tight, I like this area right here and right here, having a little contrast points, it's just very nice so I wanna keep that in. And all I'm gonna do is pop this into Photoshop and just content aware those corners to bring 'em back in. So with that, let's pop it into Photoshop. The first thing I wanna do is some clone stamping and some content aware just to fix a few parts of this image. And I wanna talk about what I wanna accomplish from it. Duplicate the layer and let it rip. Sweet, that's looking good. So here's the before, here's the after, all I did was stamp out a bunch of stuff as you saw, and then just a...

dded some pixels into those corners. So before, after, let's keep it moving. So with this image, I really wanna create a path for the viewer to follow in it. With that, I want 'em to start here with a good amount of contrast between the light streaks and the shadows. And I want it to be a little bit lighter as it goes out into the sky. So I'm gonna paint these mountains a bit, brighten 'em up, make 'em a little more blue, and I'm also gonna make this area a little more orange warmer tone. The main reason for that is just getting that color contrast as well as the light and dark contrast. I think that'll work really well for this image, but I think the main focal point in this image, where I want the viewer to end is on this peak right here. So I'm gonna do a bit of transforming and warping on this to have that be the main focal point of the image. So I already showed you guys the edit, transform and warp. I'll do that real quick. Also notice these clouds look kind of tilted, just looks kind of funny. So I'm going to try to straighten those out. If you look at the original here, they're already pretty tilted. So when we come back in here, I just wanna correct that a little bit, it's not a huge deal, but might as well give it a look where it's not looking crooked while we're here. So hit enter. I'm gonna take this layer and duplicate it just to be safe and not do too many distractions on one layer. And then from there, I'm gonna go command, shift, X. I don't think I've done this tool in the previous edits yet. Basically, it brings up this Liquefy tool and a big focal point of this image is this center peak right here, dead center in the image, there it is. But there's a few competing components here, which is this area and especially this peak, they're almost even. So what I'm gonna do with the Liquefy tool, is I'm gonna literally change a bit of the landscape to put that lower, to dampen these a bit more too, and then push this middle one a bit higher and it looks a little off centered, so maybe a bit to the left as well. So I'll do that in here. Cool, that's looking a little more prominent. I'm going to just scoot it to the left a bit and push it up. So there's before, there's after. The middle peak is looking a lot more prominent now. Hit okay. Boom, so here's where we started, did some stampage and a little bit of warping and then a little bit of Liquefy, looking good. Duplicate the layer once more and I'm just going to turn off all those. So I won't lie, I have done several attempts on editing this image and every time it just got a little too jumbled up and a little too weird and didn't look right. It's a very complicated image to edit, especially when I'm trying to explain my thoughts, 'cause a lot of my editing process is just so much trial and error. I will literally try some things, undo, undo, undo, try some things, and undo and undo and undo, redo stuff and that's literally so much of my editing process. So this is literally I think a third take on this image and I kind of know a bit more what I wanna do and I'll explain what that is. What I was doing is I brush these highlights here and then I would brush these shadows in a whole other layer mask. And what that did, was it created too much of a dramatic contrast between the two, to where it looked super fake. It just wasn't really working at least to my eye, I wasn't keen on it at all. So I think the real solution here is to target all of this with gradient filters, that way it's gonna be targeting a good portion of that image. So I can go and edit the darks and the highlights all within the same thing but with that curve holding it down, I can edit in or not edit that mid tone to where it flows in smoothly with it, so I'll show you what I mean. So I'm first going to create a curves and I think I want to actually target the top first. So I'm gonna create a gradient across, push that up a bit and then bring that down. So I'll just show you what it's doing there. Nice, and then it's affecting this a little too harsh. So I'm going to make that a little easier. Not too.. I want a little fall off on it but not too much like right there. So here's the before, here's the after, that's looking good. I'm not gonna worry too much about the coloring of it quite yet, we'll get to that in a bit. And I'm gonna come into this curves panel, run a gradient just up this. Actually, I'm going to get it to where I want first and now let's run that gradient. All right, so this is with both and that's without them, pretty solid. I'm just gonna do a bit more editing on that bottom gradient. I'm gonna push the highlights up a bit to bring out those, the light beams hitting the trees. And this is what I was saying, when I just targeted that with the Brush tool, imagine this mask only targeting this area, it was only targeting that area. So as you can see, when I bring it up, it does affect all these more subtle mid tones going on in there. That's helping a lot because it's creating a much more natural transition between the darks and the highlights with this mid tone point here. And I'm just gonna take control of that, push it up a bit. I'm gonna leave that there. So before, after, those are just the curves being altered there. And then I think with that bottom portion, I'm gonna run just its own gradient filter in the shadow area again, sticking just to the gradient. I'm gonna push that up slightly or hold on. Boom. Awesome, so just creating a little bit of filtered light looking contrast interests there. It definitely looks really good when it hits those trees and transitions into the shadow there, much bigger fan of that than the previous edit. The previous edit was pretty rough. I was struggling for 30 minutes on this one part that I just couldn't get right. And at the end of the day, it's 'cause I was just being super, super local with my adjustments, brushing in the shadows, separate of brushing in the highlights. It just wasn't working when you have a lot of varied light like this. So I think that looks a lot better. So there's the highlight tone, just diffusing that back a bit and creating a nice contrast between the background, creating a nice contrast between these layers and the back layers, throwing it all around, adjustment on that. So pushing up the highlights a bit to bring out those lights coming in. As you can see, I pushed them up right here but still kept it down with this little point down there. And then adding in that, which I feel like creates a very nice transition between that light and the dark. So one last thing I'm gonna do, is I'm going to do just one brush filter here, bring it down like that, hit the Brush tool and just darken this area some. Maybe not even that much. Sweet, creates a nice little contrast. I'm gonna push it up slightly there 'cause it is in the distance. This is closer and this is further, so I don't want it to be as dark as this. I wanna brighten it up just a little bit to give it that effect of it being more in the background. And then with that too, I'm going to add one last gradient filter down here on that curve, boom. Create a subtle contrast there. Yeah, very subtle but very nice, no complaints. So here's without all those adjustments and here's with it, a bunch of very subtle things going on, but overall I think it's nice. And with that, I'm going to just do an overall curves adjustment. So bring that up a bit, bring that... I think I'm gonna bring that right there, up and then pull that down some. So before, after, it's looking pretty good. I'm gonna come to this one and just push up this section slightly to make it brighter, then come back to the global adjustment and just bring it down. I'm doing this all by eye on what I think looks good. I think that's pretty solid. Sweet, that's looking good. I just wanted to push that up slightly. I thought this was really dark, a little too dark. So push that up just slightly there. Sweet. Before, after, all that is, is just a bunch of curve changes. So I'm gonna name these real quick and we'll keep going. I'm gonna take all these and just make 'em into a group and call it gradient exposure values. So all that's grouped together, sick. Select both of these, duplicate them up there, go command, E to put 'em into one layer. That's just a little bit easier for me to work with. So a few things I'm noticing here is this area just isn't really necessary even though I put a little bit of edit on it. I don't know, it's kinda just distracting and then also right here is unnecessary. I just wanna clean up the composition a bit. So I'm gonna do a command, T for a transform. I'm gonna click this and drag downward, as you can see, it basically makes the image go like that downward. So it pulls it down, structures it a little bit 'cause as you can see, it's pinned up there pretty much, you could say it's just pinned and if I drag it, it does that. So I'm going to drag it to there. I'm gonna hold command, I'm gonna click this little guy on the bottom left and drag that and see how it's just dragging that. Everything else is pretty much pinned except for these two and obviously the one I'm clicking. So I'm gonna make that a little more subtle and then it kind of offset this. So I'm going to click and drag this with the command again, and just find where I want it. Again, thinking about that composition with the three areas, it doesn't have to be exactly on that rule of thirds line that I'm thinking of but in general, splitting it into three parts. Hit enter right there, bada boom. So here's where we started, here's all those gradient fixes and that's a bit of comp fixing. Maybe just bring that in a little bit. Slide it over just a slight bit. Nice, that's looking a little tighter. So last thing I wanna do with this image is focus on the coloring and just getting a nice contrast between the foreground and the background as we already got that dark and light. I want it to be a contrast in the color with some warmness in the trees and then some blueness in the mountains, some coolness out there. So let's do that. With these mountains here, you could do a curve adjustment and paint in some blue. I think I'm gonna keep to the safe... I think I'm gonna keep it to a curves adjustment and a gradient filter as I think that would be the safest move. It'd be very tricky to brush in that and keep it looking natural. Oh, it's giving me the wheel. All right, there we go. So push the blue very slightly there. That's not bad, I think I don't wanna do too much on that yet 'cause I wanna create other color contrast down here to balance it out. So run a gradient right there, boom. I'm gonna make it a bit more bigger more like right there, yeah. Cool, you have a nice little fall off right here at the edge. So it'll feel like a little bit of that blue spilling on, but not too much from this one. You can see it also falls off right there too. So what I'm hoping is those two masks will really just fade in together, we'll see if it works. Just pull down the blues for a little bit of warmth there and then come to the greens and take a little bit out, not too much. And in the red, keep it real subtle there. That's not bad, however, it's pretty intense. So I'm just gonna change the opacity of it 'cause I do like the coloring. I just don't want it to be as strong. So we'll put out 59%. So that's without it, that's with it and that's the color contrast between both of them. So there's none, there's a little bit, there's really not much in the mountains yet. I think I wanna make those mountains a bit brighter too. So we might actually end up painting that in in a second. But first, let's address this hill right here in the center. I think it needs to choose sides 'cause it is kind of in the middle of these two and I think if I make it brighter, it'll be a bit better flow from the trees all the way to the mountains. So for this one, I will do a Brush tool here. It's really tricky on this because there's just so much weird light going on that it almost looks so fake, not so fake, but fake enough to be questioning it. What I'm doing here is, as you can see over here, I have the black selected. So when you look at this mask again, that white and black selection, I'm just painting in, or I guess, I'm just taking out some of that mask. Cool, so there's the before, there's the after. To be honest, I'm gonna play this one safe just because with all the weird light going on, it could look very fake if I do too much to it. So I think what I'll do, is I'll pull a little bit of blue out of it to make it a bit warmer. I'm just gonna mess with the green here. Eh, maybe push a little red in rather, I don't really know, I'm just trying things here. I'm gonna undo all that real quick. I'm just turning that layer off. I wanna see what happens when I drag some of this color onto this layer by making that gradient go further. Nice, that actually gives it a bit more natural of a feel. So we just try it all that again, further proving my point that I should just keep the gradient filters (chuckles). Cool, I'm just gonna leave that as is. I think the moral of the story here is that if I try to change it too much, it's just gonna look bad or fake. Again, this is pretty hard, I'm really struggling through this image to get it exactly how I want it, but I guess that's the challenge. I don't think that looks overdone, so I'm just gonna leave that there. Where's my opacity at? We'll put at 86%. Sweet. So let's look at a whole entire before and after real quick. Here's where we started, we did some stamping and some warping. We emphasized that middle peak. We just duplicated the layer right there, we ran our exposure gradient filters. And then we did a crop here and just a little bit of transforming. We added a color curve on the top to where it was emphasized a bit more blue, which I think we'll address that again in a second. We added one to the bottom, which brought more warmth and added a touch of exposure up on that hill, just with some curves. It's looking pretty solid. Let's come into this curves down here where it's targeting that top portion of the image. I'm gonna go to blue and just push it a little bit to see what we can get out of it. I'm gonna pull down some of the darker tones to yellow, very subtle, but that's a nice touch to it. Anything that's the mountains or brighter than the mountains, that's gonna be pushing some blue into it. And I just wanted to, again, it's really hard to see on my screen here, but there's a point right there, and I wanted to pull that down. So anything a bit less brighter than the mountains is going to be pulled in... There's gonna be some yellow pulled into that. Yeah, it's getting complex. And again, it's only affecting this area at the top, so that's where my mind's at right now. Changing the opacity 'cause I don't want it to be too heavy on it. Cool, so here's all we've done so far with the coloring. We went boom at the top, created a blue cast to it, contrasting that with a bit warmer on the trees. That's a very nice touch. And then adding that hill in there to create a little bit easier of a gradient. And I think the last thing I want to try and do here is brighten up those mountains. So just like we brushed in right here, we're gonna brush in the mountains and we just have to be very careful. So I'm gonna spend a little time doing that well, and then I'll talk through it, sweet. It's a pretty decent brush, I'm gonna pop it up slightly. I think I'm going to gradate it into this area a bit more. So basically just feathering it into that hill, just to create a more smooth transition. If I try to exact out that hill, it's just gonna look very weird. And if I do it this way, it kinda creates a bit more of a gradated feel. So I'm actually gonna do the same thing to this, just taking the brush mask and deleting some of... Oops. Basically, what it's doing here is, if you look at this brush, it feathers out slightly at the edges and I'm just basically removing some of it right here. So it feathers out, just keeping it very subtle. So if you see right now... So you see when I paint, it has those edges that are feathered. That's what I wanna do on this edge. So it just feathers into it a bit better rather than being so harsh. Yeah, that looks a lot smoother. Yeah, that looks way smoother, cool. I should have been doing that at the beginning. Definitely looks a lot better there and a lot smoother transition between this hill and this middle hill and then the mountains. So with that, I'm gonna just do the same thing up here real quick. Sometimes it's best to just get a very light feather like that so you see right there, it's just feathering out so subtly. That sometimes just gonna look a lot better than trying to be so exact. I always fall into that trap where I'll try to be too exact and it looks a lot worse and it takes a lot longer than what it would've been if I had just feathered it out a little bit. So I think Feather is the way. The mountains are looking a little too gnarly there. So I'm just gonna take it down a bit. And then I wanna try to... I'm just gonna do an overall exposure or overall at curves. We change here, pulling down that area in the darks, pushing up the whites or the highlights and then clipping the highlights slightly, pulling them down to create a softer look. I'm just gonna move this around a bit and see what happens. Whoa, it's looking very bad right there. So I'm gonna push this up. Push it up to right there and click that and then pull it down just subtly. It's still looking kinda gnarly on the shadows there. I really liked how they looked before. So maybe let's just try running a gradient filter from the top where it's not hitting those highlights too hard. Nice, I like that. So really I just wanted to diffuse those highlights a bit, making them a little less harsh and just fading them out some, so it's pretty solid. Awesome, so the one thing I'm noticing here, I feel like I kinda shot a lot of those details in the mountains. I'm gonna bring 'em back to earth real quick, right about here, not do anything too insane. I think overall, it's looking pretty solid. I'm gonna come into the Levels tool. I think this will be my last thing here. I'm going to select this middle one and drag it down. So it brightens up the image. And you notice, I really like what it's doing down here quite a bit. It's putting a very soft look down there and I'm gonna push this up a bit. It's just gonna bring a bit of contrast back into it. I really like the Levels tool for that, I think it always brings out a nice touch to the image. That's before, that's after, just upping the exposure so subtly. We drag down this one a bit and to create a bit more contrast interest here, I'm gonna put a little bit more emphasis on that bottom part. I think that helped quite a bit. And then we're gonna do one more risky move and that's gonna be painting these lights right here. I'm gonna push it up just slightly. Hit command, I, hit the Brush tool. I'm gonna paint a little outside of it to get some of that feathering effect. So it doesn't look too focused on just the lights, it kinda creates an effect where it's spilling over there. That's before, that's after, I do like that quite a bit. I'm gonna just take some outta that shadow area before, after, sick. Let's do a little bit of brushing out and fixing there. And then if we want, we could mess around adding a little red into it or maybe taking out a little blue, rather. Give it a nice little subtle gold intent there. That's what that did there, just brightened up those lights a bit, but still kept some contrast interest right here and here as well as there, I feel like that's pretty solid. The only two things I would say is the mountains and this hill are a bit much, the mountains are barely changed. The hill is very changed. So I'm going to look at this hill real quick, take off the opacity and just push it up very subtly like so. And then same with these mountains, it's already at opacity 55. So I'm just gonna even take it less than that. Give it a bit more of a natural feel. When it come to this curves panel as well, again, just lowering that opacity. I made it a bit too intense there. I do want some detail to be preserved, I'm gonna come into this mountain one and then push it up very slightly. Remember this opacity is at 39% so even if I push it a ton, it's not gonna change it a ton. Sweet, nice, that's looking really good. I think one last thing, I feel like I keep saying last thing, last thing, last thing, but welcome to my mind. I'm going to add a little blue in the shadows to contrast, or maybe not blue but a little more cooler tones into these shadows right here to contrast this light at the bottom. I think that could be actually pretty sick. Come into... It's looking kinda red down there so I might actually take out red. Undo that or invert that and hit the B key. Oh, I'm on the wrong brush, doi. obviously, that looks terrible right now. So I'm going to just mess around with that zone. I'm gonna push a little blue and then also pull out a little green. Oh, no, sorry, push a little green in. Eh, undo that and then come into the RGB. And pull a little bit of contrast back in. I think I want to just feather that a bit, so I'm just clicking. I'm gonna take it out of here. You see, I took it out of there, sweet. It's a nice little contrast touch to it. That's before, that's after, I could go a little more subtle on it by bringing up those shadows, bringing up the highlights a bit. Sweet, before, after. And I think just push back a little bit of red in there to make it feel a more natural, not too much. I'm gonna change those brush into just a gradient on that area. Again, further proving my point that I should stick to gradients on this image. All right. All right, so this was a very in-depth edit. Here's where we started. We did a bit of stamping as well as some warping, just enunciated that middle peak a bit more with some Liquefy. Duplicated the layer, did our in gradient exposures. So just having a nice natural flow to the whole thing, a little bit of crop, as well as transforming. A touch of blue in the top of it, and then a touch of warmth in the bottom, creates a nice little effect. We painted that hill slightly, messed around with it a lot until we got it to where we wanted. Painted over those mountains and same thing, I just went back and forth with it, but at the end of the day, we feathered it and kept it very subtle on the blue. Then we ran a filter on the top. That's extremely subtle, I can barely tell what's going on there. It looks like it's meant to fade the highlights a bit. We created a bit of contrast interest with the Levels tool. You can mostly notice it right here, so I'll turn it on. Boom, and we painted in the highlights area, creating a bit brighter of a situation. And then we added a bit of contrast and color to those shadows down there to contrast against that. I think I might lower this just slightly. The reason why I don't want it too dominating is because again, the goal of this image was to start here and let the viewer guide themselves through to that middle peak, to the background of the image. And if I kept it at a higher contrast, it almost felt too dominating. So yeah, just creating a nice subtle interest there that lets them keep going. And right here, I'm just gonna push this up slightly on this gradient, going to the side, just to do that a bit more, do that same concept that I was just talking about to... We're not creating a ton of contrast down there in the darkened lights. So the viewer can just look at the image and flow through it all the way to that middle peak. So that was an incredibly complicated edit. You just had a lot of varied light going on, a lot of back and forth. Yeah, there's a reason why it took me three times to actually get it right on camera. Just because you can just try so many things and a big part of my editing process again, is that trial and error, trying things and doing things, redoing things, turning layers on and off to see if they work together. I'm not covering that a ton in here just for the time's sake, 'cause otherwise this would take forever. If I was trying to undo things, it'd be like two hours of me sitting in front of camera. So the main point of that is just to illustrate what I would've done at the end of the day. If I had gone back and forth again, this was a third time through on this image. So I'm very pleased with how it came out. I'm gonna hit command, S and let's look at the very start real quick. All right, so here's our raw image. We did a bunch of color changes and a bunch of transforming stuff to get to there. So there's the before, there's the after and there is the Photoshop. So yeah, that's very different than what we started out with. And yeah, that's my Photoshop process. It's pretty deep if you want it to be, sometimes it's way more simple. This was definitely a very complicated edit, but I think it came out to what we wanted. So that's an entire walkthrough on my editing process. Not much more to say than that. It can be complicated, it can be simple, but yeah. And with that, let's close this thing out.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Workshop PDF
View Andrew's Selects
Sonora Edit - Before and After
Mountains Edit - Before and After
Edit 01 - Before and After
Edit 02 - Before and After
Edit 03 - Before and After

Ratings and Reviews

Ratul Dutta

This class is really like a good investment. It's gonna help you step by step and you can come back to it multiple times when you need to. Been watching Andrew Kearns on YouTube since 2018. Massive fan of his editing style. I wanted this class as soon as I saw the discount rate. Being a student from a different country, I probably wouldn't have been able to afford it at it's original price. This workshop goes in real depth towards the "approach" of editing a photo. I learnt a tonne of cool stuff. So many new things. Subtle yet so powerful.

Mack Woodruff

Incredibly Eye Opening This workshop truly opened up a whole new world of editing techniques that I didn't fully realize existed. I'd recommend this workshop for anyone who has a basic understanding of LR and PS already and are hoping to take it to new levels. I will keep coming back to it for a long time!

Veronica Ettedgui

Very very nice!!

Student Work