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Stretching boundaries in landscape editing

The minimising effect a wide-angle lens can have on distant elements can be a drawback when photographing certain subjects, such as a sweeping landscape with mountains on the horizon and no particular focal point in the foreground. However, one of the great things about shooting landscapes with a digital camera is that you have the final say in how the image ultimately turns out, rather than the camera or lens.

A useful trick for making more out of a landscape is to convert it to a square format (mimicking medium-format film) or 4:5 (the same dimensions as large-format film). This will literally “make more” because you don’t do this by cropping the image to the desired dimensions, but by stretching it. While this method might be frowned upon by purists (and it won’t work with all images) if your objective is simply to create beautiful images that appeal to your own aesthetic taste, what’s the problem?

Step 1

Change the canvas size to the new proportions. In this instance, 4:5, so adjust the height of the canvas from 30cm to 36cm. As you will only stretch it upward, click the box at the centre of the bottom row to create an anchor. Click OK.

Step 2

You will now have a white area above the image that needs to be filled. This will be done gradually. First, select the entire image with the marquee tool and then choose Edit–Free Transform (cmd/ctrl+t). You will now see tiny boxes around the image, which you can click and drag to adjust the image.

Step 3

Click on the box at the centre of the top edge of the image and drag it upward to fill about half of the white area.

Step 4

Select the upper half of the image using the marquee tool and use Free Transform to stretch it over half of the white area.

Step 5

Finally, select a smaller area at the very top of the image (the sky) and use Free Transform to stretch it upward to fill the remaining area.
You may be wondering why you don’t simply resize the image in one step. If you do that, allowing the software to do the work for you, you will not have been able to control anything. With this image, only the sky and background area needed to be enlarged for aesthetic purposes; resizing in one step with no anchor point would have stretched everything by the same amount.
In Moodscapes Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir shares her unique approach to capturing breath-taking fine-art landscape shots. Her work has caught the eye of editors the world over, leading her to be named Web’s Top Photographer by the Wall Street Journal, and here she reveals the techniques that will make your landscape photography stand out from the crowd and win a place on a gallery wall.

Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir

RRP £9.99
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