Beach Series Part 3: Adding Post Processing Punch

July 12, 2016

If you haven’t already, please be sure to read my previous articles on preparing for beach sessions here (part 1) and here (part 2).

Sometimes it’s downright painful to end a wonderful beach vacation.  The sun, sand, and relaxation are just too good to willingly leave.  On the upside, I always look forward to a fresh batch of images to process – each with the potential to edit in 1,000 different ways.

I think another reason why I love shooting at the beach so much is that you can be creative with your post processing in a number of ways.  As a lover of bright, bold, and colorful images I am always drawn to playing up the blue skies, sunsets, and reflective water.  Here are two ways in which you can add your own “punch” to processing your beach images.

1.) Play up existing color in the Hue/Saturation/Luminance (HSL) panel:

The image on the left is straight out of camera.  The image on the left has ONLY HSL adjustments applied.  My favorite adjustment for the beach is to bring up the saturation and lower the luminance of blues. This makes a cloudy blue sky pop! Another idea is to play with the orange and yellow adjustments (keeping in mind your skin tones) to help add some depth to the sand.


2.) Get creative with the tone curve: This step can be done in either your raw processing program, Photoshop, or both.  I always like to do the most editing that I can in Lightroom, before moving on to Photoshop.

Here is my straight out of camera image:


I love this image, but it doesn’t pack the punch and drama I like as it is. In Lightroom, I then used a combination of ONLY white balance adjustments and tone curve adjustments in the red, green, and blue channels to play with some optional edits. Here are three that I came up with:


I decided that the first edit was my favorite, but each edit to me less than a minute to do so I was glad I took the time to experiment.


This edit was created by increasing the magenta tint in the white balance and creating a slight “s” curve in the blue tone curve channel.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 11.20.44 PM


These simple adjustments are always my starting point for creating bold beach images that POP and reflect the beautiful memories I have of our trips.  What editing adjustments are your favorites?

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