How to Give Bland Nature Photos a Golden Hour Look That Really POPS (VIDEO)

We’ve all captured bland landscape photos with unimpressive cool tones, and that’s usually because the light just wasn’t right. While it’s often impossible to return on a better day, today’s Lightroom tutorial explains a simple Lightroom technique for giving these images an eye-popping Golden Hour look.

We often turn to German landscape photographer Christian Mohrle to help bail us out in situations like this, and in today’s episode he demonstrates how to transform a ho-hum image into a money shot. We suggest downloading his Raw file from the link beneath the video to you can follow along and make the changes yourself in real time.

The first thing Mohrle does is go into Lightroom’s Lens Corrections panel and enables the Remove Chromatic Aberration option. He then checks the Enable Profile Corrections box because the lens he used created noticeable vignetting.

With the foregoing out of the way it’s time for a few simple global adjustments to create the best possible base image for the selective enhancements that follow. He changes the profile from Adobe Color to Adobe Landscape which immediately bumps up saturation, brightens dark areas, and make tones a bit warmer.

Mohrle then modifies White Balance which he says is the most important step among the preliminary enhancements because the image is far too cool. He also adjusts exposure by bringing down highlights to recapture more detail in the snow. He then drops shadows and adds a bit of contrast. After introducing some Texture for a sharper look, he pumps up Vibrance for more saturation.

After a few more subtle tweaks it’s time for some masking that significantly transforms the image. Mohrle adds a Linear Gradient over the top portion of the photo, leaving the foreground untouched. Among other things this enables him to add more contrast and punch to the mountains in the distance.

The next step is selecting Lightroom’s Sky Mask to bring down temperature and increase saturation and contrast in this portion of the shot. Mohrle then adds a Linear Gradient over the foreground that he uses to make several simple enhancements to create a powerful but natural look.

Now Mohrle now turns to color grading which he says is the “fun part” of this edit. He makes a variety of HSL color adjustments and adds a split toning affect to differentiate the cool tones in the sky from the golden hues in the rest of the image. All that’s left is a bit of careful sharpening and the transformation is complete.

Mohrle’s popular YouTube channel is full of tips and tricks like these, so be sure to take a look whenever you have time.

On a related note, we suggest you check out the tutorial we posted from another expert, explaining how to use color and contrast to create landscape photos with maximum impact.