Earlier this week I shared two different posts. The first was my top favorite landscape/travel photos of 2019. And the second was my top favorite wildlife photos I took in 2019.
I do this every year but I figured I’d change it up a bit and also share the editing and post processing. Warning, I’m editing quite a few photos so the video is longer than usual (about 30 minutes). But if you want to see where my favorite photos started and where they ended up, this video will show it.
Matt, this is outstanding tutorial. I learned so much by seeing your workflow and how you approach each image. Thank you for posting this.
Question: It appears from many of your original photos and Histograms that you intentionally underexpose most of your images. Is there a rule of thumb you use for how many stops to underexpose?
Thanks so much.
Hey Mitch. Not really. I push the highlights about as far as I can push them. It always depends on the shot though. I don’t look at the histogram (just watch my latest video), but I do use blinkies in the camera. So if there was a highlight area coming close, I always under expose it. Thanks!
I really enjoyed watching you show your approach to editing. Resulted in some amazing photos that you were kind enough share on your blog. Now I have a request. Any hope that you could provide your landscape/travel ‘unedited originals’ on your blog or in a zip file? I know this is not a course, but I would love practicing to get close or even different results!
Thanks for considering this!
Hi Matt; Learning a a lot. You are a great teacher. Ok my program is I’ve worked in Aperture Apple for a few years. Love the problem. But now I need to transfer over to Lightroom and Photshop. Not such how to move my photos over to Lightroom. Seems to be a lot more steps and someone told I would have to re edit once I move over, Wish I don’t know why. In APERTURE there aren’t that many steps into importing into projects. And you can always go back to org. photo. Your way of teaching is very understanding and start forward . I love and have a great passion for photography and enjoy editing. I do it for my own connection with nature and all its beauty. And help I would appreciate it. Thank you and I really enjoy your videos. I used a IMac desk top, and lap top.
I have a Nikon D800 and D810. Being 79 and retired, the sale on the D850 caught my eye and I bought it. This may be the last camera that I will get for the noise reduction at high iso’s. I plan one photo op this year and to get all the gear that is needed for the D850( card readers for new MacBookPro, compact flash, batteries, charger) takes time and money. So I am behind in learning the settings on the D850 and am now on page 10 of the manual. I am also planning to take our motorhome to see a balloon event in Albuquerque and its blues festival. With you lectures on what to do and how to kick start the thoughts got me started. First learn the camera’s limits and push the ideas. For now read 10 pages a week on the manual.
Great tutorial, Matt! I really enjoy your “common sense” editing style. I especially like the “why” in your tips–like the “don’t be tempted to do this…”. I like to see more such tips. Also, I would certainly purchase a “No Light? No Problem! Volume 3”, if you ever create one. I learn so much from those!
Im just catching up with it all Matt, after the festive/family season. Great video!
Have just noticed though that you don’t seem to constrain the image. I was taught a while back that its a must, even though I wasn’t told why, so just confused. Can you explain?
Hi Jennifer. Online there aren’t too many exact size requirements, so as you can see, I can share any proportion image I want (as I did on my blog). If you print it, you would then size the image based on the print you were making. But there is no rule. The image should be the size you want to share it at, or the size you need to print it at.
Thank you Matt. These editing workflow videos are such an excellent way for us to learn from you. As one of the other viewers mentioned, I would love to see your workflow on some of your portrait/people images. I am grateful.
You mention that you intentionally underexpose slightly to protect the highlights. I have always heard that you should “Exposing to the Right” or deliberately overexpose slightly because of the technical way that a digital image sensor records data. Any comments on this approach?
Hi Tim. If you rewatch the video you’ll notice that many of the photos, the highlights were pushed to the right and fairly bright. That doesn’t mean the photo still won’t be underexposed or dark. Remember, your camera can’t see what we can see. So while I push the skies brighter, the foregrounds are still typically very dark in a landscape photo.
Next, sometimes I choose the darker version – shorter shutter speed means less movement in the trees in the distance, means sharper looking photo.
Lastly, this just works better for me. I wish I could tell you more, but at the end of the day the final shot is all that matters and I’m happy with how I got to mine. You have to take in all the info out there, and then do what works for you. After 20 years of doing this stuff all day every day, I’ve developed a shooting style that works for me if that makes sense.
Thank you for sharing your workflow. Your images are amazing and it was awesome to see how you got them that way!
A big fan! 😉
Brilliant! Love the workflow ‘simplicity’ and the pace was great – picked up a lot. Thank you!
Thank you Matt great video.
I hardly ever have a RAW image that does not need some form of post processing, is this your experience and why do many of your sample photographs appear to have been under exposed?
Hi John. Yes almost every photo will need a little processing. Shooting raw means you want the most neutral flat photo possible. Just like in the film days. When you had film processed it had a curve applied to it automatically, which added contrast and sometimes color.
As for underexposed… I personally shoot to always protect the highlights. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. You can always brighten shadows, but once something turns white in camera it’s gone for good. That’s my style though. Others may differ but this works for me.
What about with older cameras like the 5dii that introduce so much noise when lifting shadows even a little. Let alone banding .
Hi. If I shot Canon I would definitely have to adjust my shooting style. But what I do works for my Sony files.
These pictures are beautiful. No other words are necessary.
I watch as many of your videos as I can. You are a great teacher! I learned a lot of tips on using the brush and gradients more creatively. I’m wondering why a lot of these shots were quite underexposed when you shot them? In the past I may have discarded shots like this but now see that a lot can be done to bring them up.
I personally shoot to always protect the highlights. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. You can always brighten shadows, but once something turns white in camera it’s gone for good. That’s my style though. Others may differ.
Great to watch you work and edit. Is there a reason you like the Lightroom Classic version best?
The “cloud” version just isn’t there yet. It will be eventually, and prices of cloud storage will come down. When that happens, the interface is far superior and I’ll very willingly jump over to it 🙂
These are just beautiful. No other words are needed.
We are going to have to switch to ON1 due to the fact that adobe limits us to two computers and one person at a time. And even then the adobe app manager keeps us from switching machines even though we sign out from the one we were using. We have to sign out, then close the app AND then we even have to reboot the machine that we are closing. Unacceptable.
I am watching your editing to pick up anything I have never tried, knew about but have not tried, know about but with sub controls, or just forgot about.
Hi Matt- Your photos are awesome. I am behind the 8 ball on Lightroom apparently. I have figured out how to create a collection and I have figured out my best photos of 2019. My photos are in folders in Lightroom. How do I copy them to my collection folder? I want to make sure they are still in the folder where I imported them too. Thank you.
Hi Lyndie – just drag and drop. Would be tough to explain collections here but read up a bit on them and you’ll see you aren’t messing with folders or anything when you use them. Thanks!
Hi: These are all helpful examples, explained clearly.
However, having just upgraded to ON1 Photo RAW 2020, I am curious as to why Lightroom is the software of choice, and not Photo RAW.
I assume that Photo RAW can be used in a similar way?
Michael, see my comment on the trouble I am having with adobe, so am switching to ON1.
BTW, with ON1 their interface colors of grey on black plus small print and their help screens with dark blue links on black are driving me crazy. I wrote to them about it. If you agree with me about their colors, pls Write Them about it.
But I do believe that they offer more control over settings and offer photoshop type features all in one program. LR is more mature with more shortcut features. Auto Sync comes to mind.
Hi Michael – I use what I believe is best for my photos. For the very little money of 9.99 a month, and power, and control I personally feel the Lightroom + Photoshop combo is what is best for my photography. But yes, most of what I did here will translate to ON1 and most other raw editors out there. There are of course nuances of how much or little a slider will do, or how a certain tool works – but overall the functionality is similar.
Matt: Enjoyed the LR/PS work. One question, could you have taken the 3 shots and applied HDR? Would that work also or not? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to this question.
I’m referring to the moon shot.
Hi. I tried that. The moon is moving relative to the mountain and with the longer exposures required in such low light, there was a bad fringe around the moon when I did it.
Thanks Matt. Key learning for me is not to overthink the processing or get hung up with a pre-defined workflow and feel you have to open every tool. It’s striking that you didn’t use the tone curve or HSL tool once in all your edits and used profiles sparingly.
Absolutely brilliant! Learned so much. Thank you.
Enjoyed the show. Always learn something from watching your workflow and how your aesthetics guide your editing.
Thanks for taking the time to do this and sharing it with us.
Thanks, Matt. This was so helpful. Really appreciated the before and after and how you reached the new vision. Thanks. And love the results! Also looks as though you enjoyed the travels!
This is a very informative and helpful video, Matt! Thank you so much for taking the time to prepare and post it.
Happy New Year!
Thanks for sharing these. It was very educational.
Thank you for sharing. Moon is a challenge for me as well
Love to watch you work in LR. I always learn so much. Would love to see similar videos for portraits and pictures of people.
Great insight to your workflow. Really enjoyed it – thank you very much.
I really got a lot from this video!! I have your tutorials but i loved this.
I think the biggest take away from me is is Yes, i definitely “over think it a lot” really realised , that often less is more and very effective
great Stuff as always
To be able to watch and see your editing process is wonderful. I learned more watching you than doing tutorials. Sure a tutorial is great for learning a specific function or skill, but hearing and seeing your process is extremely helpful. Thank you so much.
We live about 90 miles from Breck, and have experienced/shot a moon set, similar to yours, Matt. My shot was taken part way up Hoosier Pass. (It’s on my website, under “Landscapes – Colorado (2018)”.
I love your expertise, and knowledge-sharing, and have followed your tutorials for years!
If you go to my website, get a (big) cup, of coffee, and put up your feet – it’s my “best of 50 years”, as a semi-pro.
It never ceases to amaze me just how much your skill totally transforms the final image in a few short minutes. You make lack luster exposures pop with mostly simple changes. I just love watching your editing videos and hearing your thought process along the way, they have made me more aware of the possibilities of the image in front of me before pressing the shutter – thank you once again.
Great! Thanks for being so generous with your knowledge!
Always learn new techniques from you.
Would love to see similar editing of portraits.
Thank you! Great video!
This was awesome, Matt. I’m happy that I’ve reached (almost) the point with LR skill that I could watch the image and remember where the sliders etc were as you named them. It’s always fun when I recognize progress in my knowledge level. Your videos have encouraged me to become a little more aggressive in my editing and the images begin to pop. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your knowledge so freely.
Thanks Matt. As always, learned a couple of new techniques.
Great stuff as always Matt. Any chance you will do the same exercise with your nature/bird favorites?
Thank you for making the (Raw Editing) workflow look less arduous. I’ve always had a tough time with Full Moon shots. Now I will finally get past that Bright Dot in the Black Sky look, thanks to your amazing technique.
I enjoyed this video. I use Photoshop, and I usually do fix my favorite photos before sharing them. I see , though, that I have a lot to learn.
Thank you for sharing. All are wonderful!