The Shapes of Nature

I just released a new photography series The Shapes of Nature from the past six months. You can view the whole project on my Behance page. You can also find prints of these photographs here. I hope you enjoy the series. 

 Mikko Lagerstedt - Reflect

Mikko Lagerstedt - Reflect

 Mikko Lagerstedt - Solitude

Mikko Lagerstedt - Solitude

 Mikko Lagerstedt - Long Shadows

Mikko Lagerstedt - Long Shadows

How to add a glow to photographs in Photoshop

In this weeks tutorial, we are adding a glowing effect to photographs in Photoshop. I received a wonderful comment from Melissa, one of my readers regarding that it would be interesting to see a tutorial for Photoshop. So I thought why not share one of my favorite tricks on how to create glow in Photoshop. 

This Photoshop trick works perfectly when you have a bright light source or sources in the photograph. Without further ado let's go ahead and open the image in Photoshop and start the process. 

Duplicate Layer

Use shortcut CTRL/CMD + J to duplicate the background layer. 


Convert to Smart Object

When we are working with this type of effect, it's useful to convert the layer to Smart Objects since we can edit the effects after we have made them.

Convert the duplicated layer into Smart Object by right-clicking on top of the layer and select Convert to Smart Object.



Now give the layer a blur. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur

Add blur to the image. Around 40–100 pixels seems to work most of the time. Don't worry about the amount at this moment since you can edit it later. 


Highlights and Contrast

Add Curves adjustment layer above the blurred layer. 

Create a Clipping Mask by right clicking on top of the curves layer and select Create Clipping Mask. This will now make sure that the Curves adjustments only affect the layer below. 

Pull up the highlights and pull down the shadows slightly to create S-curve with curves. 


Go back to the blurred layer and pull down the opacity to around 15-30% depending on your image. I recommend to go with a low opacity and don't overdo the effect.

EDIT: If you don't want to affect the shadow and sharpness of the image use blending modes: Soft Light or Hard Light on the blurred layer.
(Thanks for the tip Roland!)


Before and After

And that's it! Just a few steps can add impact to your photos. Thanks to Melissa for suggesting a Photoshop tutorial. I hope you enjoy it!




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Masters of Landscape Photography

I'm honored to announce that I was selected as the Master of Nighttime for the new Masters of Landscape Photography book by Ross Hoddinott. It includes photographers such as Art Wolfe, Daniel Kordan, Marc Adamus and many more. The 176 page-book includes interviews with ten selected photographers including yours truly. There are ten pages for each photographer with many photos with all the EXIF information and words from the photographers. The book is beautifully well made and the look is high quality, and I can highly recommend it. 

"The work of these 'masters of landscape' changes one's sense of the world: leaves it somehow brighter around the edges, darker in its currents, or more lively in its energies."


How to create atmospheric photographs part II

Last week I promised a tutorial to show you how to create an atmospheric photograph in post-processing. The editing will be done mostly in Lightroom, but there are a couple of steps that I decided to do in Photoshop. The processing decisions are made from the notes I captured in the scenery. My goal is to show you how I felt. In this tutorial I'm not using the same image I shared last week, because I wanted to create a new view from my notes.

For the photograph, I wrote down a couple of words: A mirror, a world reflected, a second look reveals it, a dream. Cold and mysterious. 

When I was capturing the scenery, I imagined that the reflection would be flipped so that it would look like a kind of dreamy World. 


Let's start the editing by flipping the scenery in Lightroom go to Photo > Rotate (either one works, do this step twice)



Let's make it slightly darker and desaturate it so we can add the blue tonality from the Split Toning panel. Also pull detail from the shadows and blacks. 

Temp 4976
Tint 0
Exposure –0,12
Highlights –19
Shadows +26
Whites –5
Clarity –7
Dehaze –2
Saturation –33


Tone Curve

As I want to make the overall look a bit darker, let's use the curves to darken and pull some of the blacks to make it hazier. 


Split Toning

Now we just need to add blue tonality to make it look colder and more like I saw the scenery.

Highlights Hue 55, Saturation 10
Shadows Hue 223, Saturation 36



For this image, I want to add darkness around the edges, so let's add some vignetting. 

Midpoint 0
Feather 100
Highlights 17


Graduated filter

Next step is to add some light to the bottom part of the frame, and the easiest way to do it is with the Graduated Filter. Pull one filter from the bottom portion of the frame towards the top. 

Contrast 33
Whites 26
Clarity 7
Dehaze –13



Usually, I leave the cropping for the final thing to do, but it was hard to visualize the outcome without doing the crop, so cut out the right and bottom part of the frame. 


Radial Filter

I want to emphasize the darkness around the frame, so let's add a Radial Filter to darken the image except for the lower part.  

Exposure –0,44
Highlights –50
Shadows 26
Whites –37
Clarity –26




As I want to boost the lower part of the frame, add another Radial Filter and this time with the following settings. 

Temp –8
Exposure 0,88
Clarity –7
Dehaze –11

Editing in Photoshop

I want to remove some of those branches in the water, and I believe it's easier to eliminate distractions in Photoshop so right-click on top of the image and select: Edit In > Edit In Photoshop CC 2018


Removing Distractions 

For this type of editing I prefer to use Photoshop and the spot-healing brush tool. It works magically well most of the time. I recommend that you first create a new blank layer above the image and use the Spot Healing brush tool so it applies to all of the layers.



This is not a necessary step but as the I wanted to straighten the middle tree and make the view more balanced so I used the free transform box and warp to fix it. 



Final adjustments in Lightroom

Finally, save the image and head back to Lightroom to make the final adjustments. I tend to use the temperature slider to make the final color adjustments and basic settings to edit how the final image looks like. 

Temp –5
Contrast +10
Whites +30
Dehaze –5
Saturation –10


Here is the before and after with the same crop. 

And that's it. Quite an easy tutorial on what you can accomplish by having notes and how to use them to edit your photographs. Let me know if you find this two-part tutorial helpful! Next week I will be releasing the new Day to Night fine art photography course, so stay tuned!

Would you like to see post-processing or capturing tutorial next week? Or perhaps something completely different? Let me know!




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