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Landscape Workflow

I love landscape photography, and love capturing images and panoramas of the natural and built environments. The natural environment is fairly self-explanatory however, for those who are not aware the built environment typically refers to things that have been built, most commonly buildings but in this context I mean cityscapes and those sort of things. Whilst the tools and software that I use varies depending on the needs of the environment and photos, I wanted to do a brief post which outlines how I go about capturing some of these images and the specific tools that I use.

Whilst hardware is not fully covered, I shoot with a Nikon D610 DSLR and most commonly use my Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 len or the AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens. More often than not I use a tripod (either the Manfrotto 190Go or the Platypod Max) and sometimes I will use something like the Arsenal AI (a smart camera assistant). I capture images as you would expect, either a single shot (or occasionally a HDR bracket) or a panorama consisting of multiple shots with some overlap (typically 20 – 30%). If I capture a panorama, this varies between a HDR panorama (usually three exposures per image) or just a general single exposure.

The various programs I use are listed in the table below, in addition to a description of what I use them for, and their purpose. It should be noted that I don't always use all of these in any given photo but as a general rule they all feature in my overall workflow. Lightroom I tend to use an older version (LR6), Kolor Autopano Giga no longer exists, but the rest are still available as at the time of writing this post. The workflow runs top of the table to bottom of the table.

TitlePurposeDescription
LightroomDigital Asset ManagerPrimarily used to group and manage photos I currently have on my system, some basic photo editing and cropping, and to hand photos off to the various pieces of software, or plugins below. Almost all of my images start off in Lightroom
Topaz DeNoise AINoise RemovalPrimarily used in my high ISO images where there is noise, or when I am capturing night photos and panoramas.
Kolor Autopano GigaImage Stitching ProgramAlthough no longer available, I still occasionally use Autopano Giga when I need to stitch a larger panorama which is comprised of multiple images. Typically these images have about 20 – 30% overlap between each image (and can often be exposure stacks) and Autopano Giga will stitch them into the one image which I can edit using the programs below (assuming the size of the image is not too large for these programs). Almost all of my panorama images are stitched using Kolor Autopano Giga although now this is no longer available I will be looking for alternatives likely KRPano.

 

There are a few alternatives to Autopano Giga which include Affinity Photo, Microsoft ICE and KRPano.

Aurora HDR HDR EditorPrimarily used for my landscape photos to merge multiple exposures (exposure bracketing), or to improve the shadows and highlights within individual images. A lot of my landscape photos are HDR based images, although HDR can be VERY easy to overcook.

Most of my smaller (i.e. non-gigapixel) panoramas are edited in Aurora HDR to bring out more details in the highlights, shadows and highlights.

Luminar 4AI Powered Photo EditorLuminar 4 is used as the heart of my landscape workflow, I use a number of AI tools within Luminar 4 which include AI Enhance, AI Sky Enhancer, AI Sky Replacement (less often), AI Structure, as well as some of the more general editing tools.

 

Edit: Luminar AI has since been released, so I tend to use Luminar AI more often now than Luminar 4. Many of the features still exist (e.g. AI tools) although there are some additional new features to Luminar AI which make it worth a look.

Affinity PhotoAdvanced Photo EditorAffinity photo is primarily used in my workflow to clean up images, if I need to mask certain areas, remove items and so on. It is a non-subscription based advanced photo editor which is similar to Photoshop.
Topaz Sharpen AIAI Powered SharpenerTopaz Sharpen AI is used towards the end of my editing workflow often just to apply a general sharpen to the image, although this is not always needed.

 

I would say about 50% of the time I feed my image into Topaz Sharpen AI. Even just for a general sharpen and because this is intelligent it does not typically oversharpen images.

JPEGMiniImage Size ReductionJPEGmini is used at the end of the process when I export or complete my projects in JPEG. This program reduces the image file size without changing the perceivable quality of the overall image.

I hope giving an idea of the software I use, and where it fits in the workflow has been of some use. As always if you have questions about this feel free to contact me using the Contact Me page, or send me a message on Social Media.

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