Have you ever returned from a day in the field, reviewed your photos on the computer, and asked yourself, “What was I thinking in shooting this image?” Like often happens you may have captured a scene that looked awesome through the viewfinder, but your images are boring at best.

In today’s Lightroom tutorial from the PHLOG Photography YouTube channel you learn how Lightroom’s Crop tool can transform those uninspiring photos into money shots. Some of  these problems are due to poor composition, or maybe you you didn’t use a long enough focal length to capture the essence of what would have been a dynamic shot. In either case this 20-minute lesson is just what you need.

Instructor Christian Mohrle is a professional German landscape photographer and a very adept instructor. His goal for this episode is to demonstrate “why Lightroom’s Crop to is a “lifesaver” for rehabilitating uninteresting photos.” We suggest using the link beneath the video to download his Raw file so you can make the adjustments yourself as they’re explained.

The image at hand was shot at a focal length of 100mm and Mohrle explains the weakness of his photo like this: “While the golden peaks are nicely centered, I should have gotten much closer instead of shooting a wider shot.” His goal for this fix is to make the sun-bathed peaks much more prominent while keeping them in the center of the frame.

This task requires cropping three sides of the image: a bit from the sky, slightly more on the right, and a larger chunk on the left. He also removes a sliver from the bottom. This technique illustrates the common mistake of only cropping from one edge of the frame. Now his key subject nicely fills the frame.

You’ll also learn how to add one of several grid overlays that he says, “are super helpful for different types of images.” After the cropping is complete there’s now a very clear subject in the middle of the image, while all of the surrounding distractions have been removed.

Mohrle is now very pleased with the composition, but being a perfectionist, there still more to complete the transformation. First he makes several global adjustments to the overall image with basic enhancements to color, exposure highlights/shadows, and the like.

Then comes masking for selective enhancements to key areas within the scene. All it takes to complete the job is careful sharpening and targeted color grading. Compare the before/after images and you’ll be impressed.

Then head over to Mohrle’s instructional YouTube channel where you’ll find more effective techniques for editing your landscape photographs.

We also strongly recommend watching a tutorial we posted earlier with a very helpful beginners guide to Lightroom’s versatile masking filters.

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