How to add a soft, dreamy effect to your landscapes in Photoshop

This week’s Photoshop technique can be used to combine and create a real softy dreamy look on your landscapes. This applies different types of techniques that you can combine together in order to achieve a far greater outcome on your images.

This is very good for shots with rays coming through the horizon and a foreground with mossy rocks and any pictures where you can find interesting lights coming through.

Video: Give your photos that dreamy effect using Photoshop!


Here’s a summary of the steps:

(View the video for full details and explanations)

  1. Load your photo in Photoshop. I’ve blended three types of exposures in this example.

 Darkening the Image

  1. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer.
  2. Pull the curve downwards to darken.
  3. Enhance the shadows on the image so it will not be all black by using some luminosity technique or by clicking on the little square found on the bottom left hand of the property window of the curves adjustment layer.
  4. Then the little square will turn white.
  5. Press the Up arrow a couple of times and you will see that the square will move up and there will be changes on the shadows of the image.
  6. Using a brush with a black foreground and a 30% opacity level, brush the middle part of the image where the sun rays are coming through the clouds.
  7. Toggling between the layers will show you the improvement you’ve made on your image.

Softening the Image.

  1. Click on Select- All.
  2. Click on Edit-Copy merged.
  3. Click on Edit- Paste.
  4. This will add a new layer.
  5. Click on Filter-Blur-Gaussian Blur.
  6. Set the radius to 15 pixels.
  7. Set the blend mode to Luminosity.
  8. Set the Opacity to 25%.
  9. Add a layer mask and using a black brush, brush the image on the important parts of the shot.

Using the Sun blur technique.

  1. Add a new Layer.
  2. Hold on the Option(Mac) or Alt(Windows) on your keyboard.
  3. Sample a bright color from the sky.
  4. Set the opacity level to 30%.
  5. Use a really big brush stroke and click once on the focal point of the image.
  6. Reduce the brush size and click again.
  7. Reduce the brush size again and give it another click.
  8. If you find it too bright, you can set the opacity level to a lower value.

We’re excited for you to try and share you photos with us!

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Comments on How to add a soft, dreamy effect to your landscapes in Photoshop

  1. Lonnie says:

    This has been a great learning tool to enhance my landscapes. Thanks Steve.

  2. This was very helpful and I learned something new. Thank you!

  3. Mike says:

    Very helpful for those landscape shots with harsh light coming through the clouds!

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