Home » photoshop

How do I take vivid, colorful landscape photographs?

I've been asked how to take colorful landscape photographs a couple of different times, and ended up writing an answer on Quora and republishing it here. It's always best to get the shot right in the camera versus focusing on post-processing. While I always shoot RAW as that gives me the most leeway to fix anything later and add artistic effects, it's a bad habit to rely on later RAW processing to fix things you can get right in the camera. The good news? There are two common reasons for washed out, low contrast images, and only one extra trick that's worth knowing to get vivid, colorful photographs.

Photoshop scripting with Javascript

I process my images using a combination of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, in common with just about every other photographer on the planet. To maximize time spent behind the camera, much of the Photoshop work is automated using Actions, which are a way to record and playback a sequence of Photoshop commands. In other programs such as Microsoft Word or Excel, these are called macros. Actions are a way of automating Photoshop processes that are performed frequently, but they have one fundamental limitation: there is no way for an action to make a decision by evaluating some condition and doing something different based on the result.

Using Canon 50D and 5D MkII with older Photoshop and Lightroom versions

Judging by the comments on photography sites, many people have yet to upgrade Adobe Photoshop CS3 to CS4, or Lightroom 1.x to 2.x. Adobe doesn't update the Camera Raw plug-in for older versions of Photoshop, which is a problem because updates are the only way to get support for new camera models. The same problem exists for Lightroom, where a new version of the program is required. The Canon 50D isn't supported in Lightroom 1.4 -- only version 2.x. While the 50D is supported in Camera Raw 4.6, which means you can use it with Photoshop CS3, owners of the 5D Mark II are not so lucky: no support in Lightroom 1.4 and no support in Photoshop CS3 either; it's supported in Camera Raw 5.2 which only works with Photoshop CS4. To solve this problem, use the latest version of Adobe's free DNG (Digital NeGative) converter to translate the RAW files from newer cameras into .DNG files. Lightroom 1.4 and Photoshop CS3 can open any DNG file, regardless of the original camera type. The DNG converter can be found here, and there are PC and Mac variants. It is updated at the same time as the Camera Raw plug-in for Photoshop when new camera support is added. It works in batch mode -- you point it at a directory (folder) full of RAW files and it grinds away creating DNGs in another directory. Taking the long view, DNG is probably a better file format for archiving images because it is open, unlike the proprietary camera-makers' RAW file formats.

Tufte Sparklines Photoshop Script

A sparkline is a small line graph designed to be used in-line within text to illustrate a time series; the concept was developed by data presentation guru Edward Tufte. Here's an example: University of California 403(b) pension fund cumulative return Jan 1990-April 2004 (original data)

Equities 267%
Bonds 154%
The idea is to show, using minimal space, how a value varies over time. One advantage of sparklines' compactness is that several can be used together to allow at-a-glance comparison between a set of time series. At Tufte's web site there is a longer description of sparklines, with further examples, from a sample chapter of Tufte's book, Beautiful Evidence. Sparklines are tangentially related to photography - they are used alongside images as a graphical design element in qualitative and quantitative analysis.