Edit a Waterfall Photo in Lightroom: Landscape Editing Tutorial

Hey guys, my name is Chelsea Northrup and
today we’ll be editing this picture. And I provided a link down below in the
description where you can download the picture so that you can follow along. So
you might want to pause me and go get that right now. So the first thing we’re
going to do is take out these water splatters. If you’ve taken pictures of
water falls before you know that there’s just water and mist flying everywhere
and it gets all over your lens, so let’s get rid of it. You want to select your spot
removal tool and you want to adjust your feathering to about thirty to forty
percent, and I’ll show you why real quick. You’ll learn a little something. If you have too much feathering and you select it, it leaves a halo so you can see that it
didn’t really get rid of it, it leaves a halo around your spots. So I’m going to
press ctrl+Z. If you don’t do enough feathering, then it just looks like a
cutout, they’re really sharp edges and it doesn’t blend nicely. So like I was saying,
let’s do like thirty, forty percent and see how that works. That’s crazy, so I’m gonna press H and it’s going to show me
where it sampled from. On a rock, good going Lightroom, thanks. Alright and i like to press H to hide it
just to see if it did a good job. I think it could do better. I’m just going to
delete this and try again. I’ll make my brush a little bit bigger and i used the
right bracket key as a shortcut. I’m going to pull it into a similar
place like this is a shadow when the branches are going in the same direction
and if I press H it it looks natural. Snd the same thing here, make my
brush a bit smaller that wasn’t big enough. And again, I want to sample it from a similar area, so the shadowy spot down here looks good. I’ll just press H so I can see. That’s decent. And
you just keep going like that. That’s all right. Oh that one actually worked? Wow. When you have a spot like this, if
you go down too far you can see the edge of the photo you can go to a spot where the water
isn’t moving in the right direction and then it looks kind of funky so you want
to make sure it blends naturally and that looks good. I should also mention
him on the heal tool and not the clone tool, you’ll get different results if you
use the wrong one or the other one. Nothing’s wrong. Okay, so i think I got all of all the spots out and it already
looks a lot better. So I’m going to go in and just play with the exposure a bit. So
the overall exposure is good, but i just want to make sure there are some whites
and some shadows in there. So I’ll go to my white slider, I’ll press alt while i
slide and i can see that there are already whites in there that section is
actually a bit blown out but I don’t want to bring it all the way down
because if I do the whites in the trees are also just killed and it looks so
flat and muddy. You can see if I bring it up, it’s brighter, it pops a bit. If I bring
it down too much, it’s pretty ugly. I’m actually going to leave
it just about where it was. The same thing with the blacks, I’ll press alt, while
I drop it down and just make sure there’s a little bit of black there that
makes it pop. I am going to add a little bit of
clarity but just a skoch, because sometimes I see things like this, and it’s like,
chill out, that’s too much. Ya gotta… less is more
sometimes. Ok and now I’ll go to my colors and there’s a lot of green and a
lot of tan and I just like to make this kind of red tone in the rocks pop. So let
me select the orange and i’ll make the hue a bit more towards the orange side.
Now you don’t want to keep your blinders on, because sometimes I’ll be extreme about
it, sometimes there will be a part of the photo that you don’t expect to have that
color in it and it can look artificial or cause fringing or give away your
editing. So look around. Sometimes I’ll go to the extreme, I’ll go
all the way to the other end of the slider just so I can see what’s going on
and make sure I’m not damaging my photo in any way. And with the greens i’m going
to bump up the luminance just a bit to make them pop and move the hue so that
they’re just a bit richer. Alright, so we played with some colors, now I’m going to
get a little more picky because i want to warm up this picture, the temperature
of the picture, but I don’t want the water to turn like orange, that looks
really bizarre. So i’ll bump up the overall temperature just a bit and then
i’m going to select my adjustment brush so that I can kind of fade in those warm
tones. So the effect that I want to use is temp and i’ll use my right bracket to
make my brush big and I want the flow all the way up and if you press O, then you can see your mask.
Just select your whole picture. This is fun Okay, so I’ll press O again to get rid of the
mask and I’m going to bump up my temperature to where I want it. That looks pretty good. But as you can see, the water is still a bit warm. So I’m
going to press O so I can see my mask again, and I’m going to press down Alt
and that will bring up my erase tool here. And I want to flow down to about 20
to 30. And i’m just going to take some of those warm tones out of the water. You don’t want it to cool either because
that will look unnatural. So let’s press O and make sure it’s not too cool. And I
think that looks pretty good. So the next thing that I want to do is selectively-
let me press new for a new brush. I want to selectively bring down highlights. So
let’s use the highlights brush and it thinks I want to bring them up, so let me
move it down. I’m going to press O for my mask and use my left bracket to make
my brush smaller and select the water. And I’m bringing down the highlights
because the waters a bit blown out and this is going to add just a bit more
detail back in, make it pop. If you run into a spot like this where your brush is too big, you can use your left or right bracket to make it larger or smaller. And then I will press O to hide my mask. Let me see… so this is where my
highlights were and I don’t want them too low because it gets a bit dark, I
still like the bright whites in the water, so bring it down just a bit. Alright so I’ll press my adjustment brush to
leave my adjustment brush and I just like to just look at it and and see what
should be changed. Sometimes I’ll just walk away from my
computer so I can come back and get a fresh look at the picture, because when
you’re just staring at something and editing it you can just gradually add
more and more edits until it’s over processed. That’s bad So I think the last thing that I want to
do is bring more of your focus to this part of the picture by artificially
creating a narrower depth of field. And I’m going to do that with my adjustment
brush. So again, this opens up a new brush. I’m going to make my brush bigger and
press O so you can see the mask. Oh, let’s change it to sharpness. I’ll get the corners just a little bit, even
though that’s not really natural. And now if you press alt you’ll have your erase
tool up and i’m going to put the flow up on my erase tool because I’m going to
erase around these rocks here everything behind them is going to be out of focus
kind of a wall of rocks. So all the trees will be blurred a bit and that will
bring your attention to the foreground. I’m going to use my brush again, bring the flow
down and then blur some of these things that aren’t quite in the same focal
plane as the waterfall but are still in front of these trees here. So you can
see, like this wouldn’t be perfectly in focus, this is a bit behind this focal plane. Ok, let me turn off my mask I’ll leave my
adjustment brush. Okay, so let’s see the before-and-after so
you can get an idea of what the blurring affected. So before the background is
blurred a bit, you can see this isn’t quite in focus but the after picture is
blurred enough where your attention is really brought to the subject which is
this one part of the waterfall. And i’ll press Y to get a side-by-side-
oh by the way to get the before and after, I use the backslash key under the
backspace key. Alright so let’s press Y and get a
side-by-side and you can see I warmed up the picture which made it look just more
inviting and prettier. I brought out some of the detail on the
waterfall, I’ve blurred the background and got rid of those splashes. And if you
have any other tips for editing a waterfall, you can put them down below
and help your fellow editors out. That’s it! if you have any suggestions for other
videos you can comment down below as well. We have an entire Lightroom book
where we have tons of tips and I have more videos that are not seen on youtube,
12 hours of video in fact. So thank you.


  1. osmoregulator February 17, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    More lens reviews please!

  2. Shaun Fry February 17, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Any tips for someone who's colour blind ?

  3. Lorenzo Valenzuela February 17, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Nice job. Thanks!

  4. Qwan Brodie February 17, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    How about how to edit night shots such as action shots (running) and city skylines?

  5. Darlene Watkins February 17, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Thanks so much!!  

  6. Afterglow February 17, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    I really like these videos and find them really useful! One suggestion: It would be nice to have a "and here's what it will look like after the editing" at the beginning. That way viewers will know if the video is worth watching for them if they like the style of editing in the final result.

  7. rizzo905 February 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    video suggestion : using wacom tablet 

  8. Tom Rabel February 17, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Haha!! "A rock. Good going Lightroom." That's just funny, only PS users would relate.

  9. VincentHannon February 17, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I can find no way to make the pegs that mark the adjustment as small as on your screen. Is there a way to do it, or is it how Lightroom reacts to each system where my Win 7 and your Win 8 displays differently. And probabaly the Apple product witha different look to the interface. 

  10. Cat Mario February 17, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Or delete the photo sell your camera give up photography… Your welcome

  11. GravityHazard February 17, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I attempted my own LR edit of this .. how can i share this with you and get some feedback? I'm a SDP reader and i applied for the FB group today. Should i post there or maybe on SDP forum ? I'm new to the community and have 0 idea on whats the best way for this : ) 

  12. Razor2048 February 17, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    A post process blur requires that you completely remove 100% of the noise (or sample and add the noise to the blur) (all cameras have visible noise, even the high end medium format cameras on their lowest ISO) It is easy to spot when ever it is done because most of the time when it is done, the noise is either not removed, or it is not sampled from an untextured place, then applied it to the area they they blurred.
    Other signs of the edit is the variation of the blur. e.g., some of the leaves are further back than another set, but they have the same amount of blur. (manually blurring that to match the distance would take an insane amount of work).

    Overall, if I need to selectively blur an image, I will do something like take one image at a small aperture, then another at a larger aperture, then work in layers to selectively use the out of focus regions of the larger aperture image. (helps if you also get moire on certain objects in the distance are not the main focus of the image, and you want to remove it without changing the look of the image noise).

  13. kermit1 February 17, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Chelsea will u marry me

  14. Smaakjeks K February 17, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    What a great video, Chelsea! Thanks! 🙂

  15. ProgamerEU February 17, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    D810 users guide plox <3

  16. Kenji Nakakura February 17, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Really liking those videos, especially because you say every shortcut you are using, that helps out a lot! Thanks! 
    I'd love to see a video about getting different effects with light brushing on portraits! 🙂

  17. Gary Lum February 17, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you @Chelsea Northrup Much appreciated. 

  18. Oleg Sobakin February 17, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Hey guys. What I saw here was kinda long, I know it's art. But most of the time you come home and you have like a hundred of pictures that you wanna edit massively quickly enough. Could you show how to do that in your photos, using lightroom with auto noise reduction, auto sharpness, auto something else. That could be so much better. Thx.

  19. clmsundholm February 17, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Thank you once again for a video that will help me out  a lot.

  20. Mark K February 17, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    2nd the idea of a video on using the Wacom tablet.

  21. JhawK770 February 17, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Another great Video.
    Keep them coming!

  22. Andrew_EP_Photography February 17, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Great tutorial Chelsea Northru  (couldn't resist) 
    But seriously, excellent 🙂 

  23. RWJonesAIC February 17, 2015 at 9:05 pm


    I really like and appreciate all you and Tony do for us, the novices and amateurs.  

    Let me expand on some of the comments below.  To set this up, let me compare this to your Thursday photo critiques.  Those are great because you both talk about  the images "overall" qualities.  Such as, lighting, composure, processing, etc.  On these make-over tutorials, I really don't know where you are going until we get there.  It would be great if you took a minute and critiqued the image and explained what you wanted to do "overall" to help the appeal.  

    In this case, you made the falling water the center point by  taking down the exposure and blurring the background.  You also made the picture much more appealing by  warming it up.  It would have been great to understand that from the beginning.  It would also be great for you to critique the photo so we could understand how to possibly make it even better for the ultimate edit.

    Don't take this comment as anything more than constructive.  "Overall" you  both get two thumbs up.


  24. TheKnut February 17, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Why so many dislikes? I thought it was very good. Thumbs up from my side at least!

  25. Tyler Weber February 17, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Great video, I was wondering what tablet you were using, I am starting to get carpel tunnel from editing with a mouse and would like to get a precise tablet for editing. Thanks.

  26. John Campbell February 18, 2015 at 12:07 am

    I tried a tablet for months and I never got used to it.  I opted for a precision mouse instead [6400 d.p.i].  It works very well.  If you're already a pc gamer, it's a very cost-effective purchase.  I'm suggesting this as an alternative for tight budgets or those like me who can't seem to master the tablets. A good precision mouse made a huge difference in my post production work.  Cheers.

  27. John Miller February 18, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Love these kind of tutorials! Keep up the good work

  28. tristan selva February 18, 2015 at 2:31 am

    Hey Tony, could you please do a short tutorial on blurring the background and not the subject for photos that were taken at a high ISO. Thanks!

  29. roundballrolls February 18, 2015 at 4:45 am

    Hi Chelsea, thank you. I wish some people would remember that there is a whole lot of us that are just starting out. I only bought a dslr a few months ago and now have lightroom 5 and do a pretty good photo in my opinion. Totally thanks to you guys. Please keep it up. Cheers.

  30. David Mejía February 18, 2015 at 4:51 am

    Hi guys, do you know how much in taxes do I have to pay if i order a Sony A7s from Hong Kong to be delivered in the US? 

  31. Daniel Reaume February 18, 2015 at 5:38 am

    Maybe some more contrast would have been good?

  32. friður February 18, 2015 at 7:02 am

    @Tony Northrup  do you guys calibrate your computer to make it color accurate. if so would you guys ever do a tutorial?

  33. Mr. Sin February 18, 2015 at 7:07 am

    Do a video on infrared photography.

  34. Poncharello211 February 18, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    I learned a lot of neat stuff in this video thank you for making these! 

  35. Boris Gorelik February 19, 2015 at 12:31 am

    @Tony Northrup @Chelsea Northrup  why can you do this in camera raw?

  36. Alysuis February 19, 2015 at 12:52 am

    daaaaaaang…wait, is Tony just a robot that Chelsea puppets to sell books?

  37. RUNS WITH SCISSORS February 19, 2015 at 10:54 am

    After being subscribed to your channel for ages i'm actually going through all these,i love your channel,its like hanging out with friends that have accents,we dont have accents in New Zealand, just sheep :]

  38. Rafael Castro Salvador February 20, 2015 at 1:18 am

    Hello Tony & Chelsea!
    First of all your channel is great! A lot of really useful information about real photography and not a lot of boring reviews like most of the channels.
    I am a photographer here in Brazil and in a few months I'm going to NY to work. I am food photographer. Love my job but I'm always concerned about the color of my photos.
    And because of that one of the things that I want to invest during my visit to B&H is a Datacolor – Spyder4PRO.

    Please! Make video about your color workflow!!!

    You are awesome!!! Sorry for bad English! And hugs from Brazil 

  39. Mike Hitchner February 20, 2015 at 5:02 am

    Sometimes I think lightroom is quite a special program. Like when it samples from areas that don't have the same colors or textures as the area I clicked. 

  40. Tim C February 21, 2015 at 2:19 am

    i don't see the link to download photo help please

  41. Mixie Palms February 21, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    if you use the histogram monitor calib aint a prob?

  42. John Lay February 22, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Not particularly about landscape editing, but thought I mention I like to switch on "solo" mode in the development tool area.  It just closes all the sections except the one I'm working with.  Just avoids some extra scrolling.

    Another excellent video! Thanks!

  43. Siva Bala February 24, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    I intend to update to Lightroom 6 when it come out soon, will you be revising your Lightroom 5 Video book? I intend to buy it but should I wait? 

  44. Beer Baron February 25, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Great video!

  45. James Fallas February 25, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Hi Chelsea, i would love to know what hardware are you using to edit with Lightroom? i see you have a pen…and what do you recommend?

  46. Tim C February 27, 2015 at 4:50 am

    What size wacom tablet do you use??

  47. Anthony Rodemus February 28, 2015 at 7:41 am

    If your mouse has a scroll wheel, you can use the wheel to adjust the brush size in spot removal tool, adjustment brush etc… really handy for quick adjustments.

  48. Jeffrey Wong March 2, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Thanks Chelsea for your tutorial on editing waterfall, I recently just learned how to shoot long exposure on waterfalls 🙂
    I have a question about photo printing. If I want to print a high quality photo at a print shop, when I export my photo in Lightroom, should I set the color mode to sRGB or something else? Thanks!

  49. guy ruzicka March 8, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Thanks. Nice job.

  50. Phoenix March 19, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Thank you Chelsea and Tony, your videos are very helpful 🙂 

  51. Ken Dunlop June 7, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Chelsea, Thank you for a very informative video. I have watched many different Lightroom tutorials and everything that is adjusted seems to me over the top.  I like your less is more comment.  Thank you once again!!

  52. DaveB December 17, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Nice video. Well presented and clearly explained as usual. I would never have thought to use desharpening to blur background. Might have been better to do this by blending with another image taken at lower f. Of course – this can't be done in Lightroom….

  53. michael webb April 23, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    hi loving all your videos . i'am ordering lightroom 6 and your book to go with it this week . i'am pretty new to all this . can you tell me what that pad and pen you are using to edit with ?

  54. Elliot Jay April 24, 2017 at 1:10 am

    So glad I just watched this. The blurring effect helped out my waterfall a lot.

  55. Tony & Chelsea Northrup May 24, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    ⭐Lightroom + Photoshop: http://sdp.io/adobedeal
    ⭐Premiere Pro CC: http://sdp.io/pcc
    ⭐Full CC suite: http://sdp.io/cc
    ?Stunning Digital Photography on Amazon http://help.tc/s
    ?Lightroom 6 Book on Amazon http://help.tc/l
    ?Photoshop Book on Amazon http://help.tc/p
    ?Buying Guide on Amazon http://help.tc/b

  56. Timothy Gritzuk January 1, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Absolutely love watching your tutorials !!! Keep them coming please !!!

  57. Linda Ursin January 20, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Love the tutorial. It will help a lot the next time I do it. I think I can see one more water splash though 🙂

  58. ThePampered PinUp November 12, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    I like to hop over to PS for a little dodge and burn after my (very similar to your) Lightroom edit. That way I can really dig into the details without making the pic look crunchy. Thanks for the video! I’ve never tired the artificial DOF but like the effect it had in this pic!

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