I took some landscape photos recently with the intent of making a wide panoramic photo from the results. I used Microsoft's Image Composite Editor software to stitch my shots together and was pretty impressed with the results for as little input as it needed:

enter image description here

For me, though, the final image still looks a bit off. The mixture of highlights and shadows in the sky and woods was a challenge. I was also in a big hurry when taking these shots, so if I had it to do over again, I would do a few things differently:

  • Shoot with the camera turned 90 degrees to get more vertical field of view (this panorama already came from two rows of photos stacked on top of one another)
  • Shoot RAW for better dynamic range and ability to adjust white balance (I did this with a Canon T3i); there's a lot of overexposure
  • Use manual controls to ensure a consistent aperture/shutter speed across all photos (although the stitching software already did a pretty good job of equalizing exposure; the individual shots are much less homogenous)

With that said, I'd like to postprocess this into something that looks more attractive in lieu of going to the same location and lucking out for the same kind of weather and nice cloud/sky mix that I had in the above shot. What kinds of adjustments could I make so that the sky isn't so washed out?

I'm not looking for anything that looks unrealistic by going overboard on contrast or saturation, just stretching out a bit more detail so it isn't so washed out. Based on my above description, you can tell I'm somewhat of a beginner, especially when it comes to postprocessing techniques.

Another note: with landscape photos, I know a common answer is "Find a more interesting landscape." I would like to make a print of this photo as a gift for a friend; this particular spot and view were chosen because they were of significance to them, so I would like to preserve this overall image if possible.

  • could you find an image that you think looks good, and link here? Community needs to know your taste Jul 29, 2017 at 20:55
  • That's a fair question. I don't have an image right at hand, but my opinion is just that the sky looks very washed out. While it is a mix of blue sky and clouds, it looks mostly white, I assume because I overexposed the original shots.
    – Jason R
    Jul 29, 2017 at 21:14
  • Is this something you had in mind? imgur.com/a/MwHvZ
    – insignum
    Jul 29, 2017 at 22:14
  • @insignum: Yeah, something along those lines is what I was going for. I like the additional detail you can see in the clouds. It looks like the color is a bit more saturated as well, which helps the image to "pop" more than my original. I tried doing some of those tweaks on my own but couldn't get them quite right; I couldn't get the shadows in the clouds to look like yours and I felt like the image looked too unrealistic when I added saturation.
    – Jason R
    Jul 30, 2017 at 1:44
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    Re. comments by @scottbb also note that comments can be removed automatically by SE "housecleaning" systems, whereas answers will not be. Jul 30, 2017 at 19:47

2 Answers 2


You can lower the highlights and push up the shadows. This will help a bit with the overexposure on the sky and underexposure in the foreground. Example of edit

Here are the settings I have used to achieve this.


Although it would probably be better to go and redo the shot if you want to print it.

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    Pretty impressive improvement. I've used +gamma correction to bring out shadow detail and -gamma to reduce [sky] overexposure in one image (as shown in the last set on my Gamma Correction Illustrated page), but that didn't include sky mixed in with trees as in this photo, which would make it a much tougher process. Jul 31, 2017 at 7:13
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    This is why it is useful to have the ability to manipulate the different parts of the histogram separately.
    – dannemp
    Jul 31, 2017 at 7:46
  • "the settings" on what? Jul 31, 2017 at 20:18
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    These are from Adobe Lightroom, but any photo editing software has aproximatively the same options, maybe without the clarity one, but clarity does not really play an important role in this specific edit
    – dannemp
    Jul 31, 2017 at 20:31
  • thank you, sure there will be similar setting elsewhere, but similar is not equal, so it is nice to know. Aug 22, 2017 at 0:28

You can get quite a bit out of this by saving some of the highlights, making the image overall warmer and more saturated, and finally doing a bit of selective dodging/burning. I'd use a brush tool on the sky and the tree in the center above the sky.

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • I find that going to -100 on highlights gives an unnatural look to the sky(as if it is a HDR picture) creating a over-saturated blue and too much contrast, but this is just my personal taste, a lot of people enjoy this kind of edits
    – dannemp
    Aug 1, 2017 at 9:29

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