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Improve your landscapes with digital-imaging

Improve your landscapes with digital-imaging - How to improve your under exposed landscapes using digital imaging software.

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Landscape and Travel

How to improve your under exposed landscapes using digital imaging software.
Words & Pictures Peter Bargh of ePHOTOzine

Improve under exposed landscapesWith landscape photography there's always a chance that the sky will fool your camera's meter, making the picture dark. In this example the meter reading for the sky was 1/250sec at f/11 and the ground was 1/15sec at f/11. The digital camera captured the photograph at 1/90sec at f/13.5, weighting the exposure more towards the bright sky.
If it had exposed for the ground the sky would have been disappointing.
Improve under exposed landscapesSimilarly if you adjusted the brightness and contrast (Image>Adjust> Brightness/Contrast) you could make the ground appear brighter, but look what happens to our lovely moody sky. The way round this is to make a selection of the local area that you want to adjust, in this case the tree and ground, and apply any correction to just the selected area.

Improve under exposed landscapes Improve under exposed landscapes

Use the Lasso tool to draw around the horizon and edge of the tree (left). Then go to Select>Feather and set a feather of about 5% of the image width of your photo. In this example taken on a Fuji S2 it was 3024pixel image so I set a pixel radius of 150. You'll see the selection spread out and become smoother (right). This ensures that when you apply your correction the effect is gradual rather than hard edged.

Improve under exposed landscapes

You could use the brightness/contrast option that we used at the beginning of this article, but a more controllable option is Curves. In Photoshop this appears in the Image>Adjustments menu and can be called up using the shortcut keys Ctrl+M. Click on the diagonal line in the bottom left of the graph that appears and drag it upwards to create a curved line. Adjust until the area is as bright as it can go without looking unnatural. You need it to look balanced with the sky.

Here's the end result - far better than the original and it has helped to sort out a typical metering dilemma. Some may find this a touch too green, so you could go a stage further and adjust colour balance adding red to make it more neutral. Improve under exposed landscapes
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