It always seems to be the case when you’re out shooting landscapes that all of the best elements of the scene are usually not present at the same time: A sky full of puffy clouds and colorful lighting. Crisp mountains without obscuring haze. Clear blue sparkling water and lush greenery.
You might get one or two of these, but chances are that not every element of the scene will be right.
So your choices are to shoot what’s there as best you can under the circumstances, or keep coming back again and again until everything falls into place. Or you can use software such as Anthropics LandscapePro Studio Max, now in version 2!
This powerful and clever app is a lot of fun to use and really makes up for when nature is lacking. Inside the app, the weather is always perfect.
The screenshot at top shows my image near the finishing stage in LandscapePro Studio Max. The image just above shows my original Southern California shot, which is still nice but not nearly as interesting, mainly due to the large, bland sky. So how did I get from the one to the other? Let’s take a look at the process, where LandscapeProStudio Max actually walks you from step to step with visual tips.
With your image loaded, you are greeted with the Add & Edit Areas control panel, where you drag labels onto different parts your image: Sky gets dragged to the sky area, water to the water area, mountains to any mountains and trees to where there are trees. A total of 18 categories are available.
In the screenshots below, you can see this control panel at left and the instructions for it at right.
Below is how it looks when the various scenic elements are fully labeled and selected (in this case, Sky, Mountain, Grass, Tree, Rock). If an area does not fully fill on the first try (as with the rocks below), click and drag the “carrot” arrow until the color is solid or use the Smart Brush option. If you’re familiar with Photoshop’s Quick Selection Tool, you’ll understand this functionality right away.
Tools are available for fine-tuning the selections as needed, such as in cases where trees meet the sky and need to be masked or there are small objects to be dealt with, as well as crooked horizon correction (shown below).
With all of the areas labeled and other base adjustments made, now the fun begins! You can begin working with any of the labeled elements you added by clicking its name in the panel at the left of the screen. Here I have chosen to replace the sky, the most prominent element (below). With the Sky menu expended, there are over 100 presets to choose from. If none of them are to your liking or just don’t work with the particular image, choose the Sliders option instead to adjust Levels and Color manually.
Continue on through each of your scenic elements (such as the Grass, below), clicking on presets or making slider adjustments to best suit the overall scene.
Below, you can see the final result. I needed up choosing a different sky, making the mountains darker and the grass greener. It sure is a far cry from the original bland image!
Here’s another before-and-after set, this time a Lake Tahoe scene with both daytime and nighttime effects added.
You can be done after adding and editing presets, or you can enter either the Global Presets or Whole Picture sections and still further transform the scene using overall adjustments, such as the Night preset shown above. Other finishing touches include Lighting, where you can actually drag and pull lighting from one area of the image to another (almost like a moving flashlight) and Fixes (options include de-noising and straightening).
So what’s new in version 2 of LandscapePro Studio Max?
•All new Lighting brushes. Now you can also paint on light exactly where it is needed
•More than 100 new skies are available, now including rainbows and storms
•Sky reflections in water
•New and improved selection tools, Smart Brush, Expand Brush
•Additional labels such as Snow, Waterfall, Bridge
LandscapePro Studio Max is a very unique app and I really enjoyed using it. The results are great and you don’t have to spend much time getting going, because the app itself guides you with animated dialogs. Tutorial videos are also available on Anthropics’ website.
Three versions are available, with the Max version offering Histogram and Batch mode.