split toning

I’ll be the first one alongside you when extolling the virtue of editing a landscape photo cleanly. There is an undeniable beauty to nature photos when they’re presented naturally. Sometimes, a high-contrast shot with a flat, blue sky is the best option when sharing your landscape photos. However, I also believe that we should be allowed to take certain creative liberties when it comes to stylizing, so long as is presented as such and not in the vein of photojournalism.

an example of a landscape photo with split toning applied

Of all the ways one could creatively stylize a landscape photo, perhaps my favorite is split toning. Without going too far down the rabbit hole, split toning is a technique where you specify a particular hue value and strength (or saturation) independently for the highlights and for the shadows. There a number of tutorials that can walk you through how to split tone your photos, including the video below that I shared several years ago showing how I use Adobe Lightroom Classic to apply this technique.

Now, before you head for the shed to grab your pitchfork and hunt me down for recommending such a sacrilegious concept, hear me out. I wholeheartedly believe in the creative therapy that comes along with giving yourself free license to explore how to present your landscape photos. Often times, one of the main reasons why I end up in a rut or gigantic funk as a photographer is because I become mechanical with my editing. I find myself grabbing the same sliders and toggles, applying the same treatments over and over.

With split toning, for example, I open myself up to an entirely new set of creative options. And, yes, there are always those who feel the need to chastise me for adulterating my photos. But the simple truth is that I can do whatever I want to my photos and, as far as I’m concerned, the artistic pursuit of photography is one of the most rewarding things that I can do for myself. So, the next time you find yourself in a creative funk, perhaps giving an alternative editing process like split toning a try will do the trick to get you out of it.

See more of Brian Matiash’s work at matiash.com.

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