Ice beach method

Ice beach method

Photoshop Method

This is the main method I use to process most images. After many years of doing this in photoshop, I have decided to share the technique with you. The aim of this technique is to enhance colours, to give them that contrast colour while maintaining a natural contrast. I love the pre-dawn ice beach images because they often have so much colour potential, so I named this technique “Ice Beach Method”.

The technique requires a good understanding of Layers and Masks and channel Selection techniques as well as Tony Kuyper’s luminosity masks (which relate closely to this technique). So if you are full of beans, let’s open Lightroom and an image with colour potential.

Create your own website

Are you thinking of building your own photo website? There are so many tools to help photographers display and sell their photos online.  Having your own website is like owning a property, you don't have to pay commission to third party online galleries  Siteground are the best webhosts I have used in my 15 years of running icelandaurora.  They are currently having a sale.  Use this LINK to get a massive discount on hosting plans.

Preparation in Lightroom

flat contrast in Lightroom

In Lightroom, I am using the graduated filter to balance the shadow areas in the top bottom and corners of the image. I am pushing the curves so that the shadows are lightened. Look at the histogram! I have pushed everything up into the top half. The image is now flat, and grey, but bright. The reason behind this is because the Ice-beach technique s going to increase the contrast heavily, it is therefore, best to start with an image that is flat in terms of contrast.


duplicate layer

layer duplicated in photoshop

The first thing to do when the image is open in photoshop, is to duplicate the layer, this is best achieved by dragging the image thumbnail down to the “Add layer” button (at the bottom of the layers palette). This means that you know have 2 identical layers.


softlight blending mode

By changing the top layer to the “Softlight” blending mode, you will see how the contrast in your image increases. The highlights become brighter and the shadows become darker. At this stage please ignore the highlights, we are going to watch the mid-tones and shadows.

dark shadows

Keep duplicating the layer until the shadows become too dark.

Channel selection

Selection via channel

When the shadows become too dark, you need to mask them. The simplest method is to create a selection by selecting the RGB channel. On a PC the command is to hold “Ctr+Alt” and tap the “2” key. To add to the selection, just hold the “Shift+Ctrl+Alt” keys simultaneously while tapping the “2” key. The selection shown above was achieved by tapping the “2” key about 7 or 8 times. As a result, all the highlights, mid-tones and some of the shadows have been selected.

Turn Mask into selection

Now when you click on the “Mask” button, the selection automatically becomes a mask. With my selection, the mask will prevent the dark shadows in the layer underneath from being affected by the softlight layer.

View the mask

You can view the mask by holding “Alt” and clicking the mask.

softlight blend and repeat

We can repeat this process. but each time we duplicate the layer, the selection needs to be smaller than the previous. Repeat sparingly.


Now we come to treat the highlights.

Multiply blending mode

By creating a duplicate layer with the “Multiply blending mode”, you will start to reduce the highlights. When you have created a duplicate layer with “Multiply” creat a selection the same as before, but this time only 1 or 2 or 3 clicks. The aim is to select the highlights but especially the highlight colours, but not the dark mid-tones or shadows.

Highlight selection with multiply blend

When you have created a duplicate layer with “Multiply” create a selection the same as before, but this time only 1 or 2 or 3 clicks. The aim is to select the highlights but especially the highlight colours, but not the dark mid-tones or shadows.

Multiply select Mask

When you have made the selection, click the “Mask” button to create the mask. In this case only the highlights will be affected by the “Multiply Layer”.


Gaussian blur
Filters – Blur – Gaussian Blur

Multiply select Mask

Add Clarity in photoshop

Adding a multiply mask will control the highlights but the image will lack clarity. It is important to add some “Guassian Blur” to the mask (around 100) until the clarity returns. As you repeat the process with Multiply layers, it is wise to increase the amount of Gaussian blur each time.


Compare before and after
In photoshop it is good practice to regularly compare your starting image with your processing progress. For convenience I dragged a duplicate of the original layer to the top and for your convenience, I created a split mask to show you before and after.

If you are happy with the result, flatten the image… “Layer- flatten layer”

Final adjustment

Tone Curve for contrast

Image adjustment Curves

All this selection and blending has popped the colours but reduced the natural contrast a little. So create a duplicate and open the curves dialogue “Image – Adjustment – Curves”. I am able to increase the contrast without losing too many shadows or highlights.

And here is the final image…
Glacier Ice beach

Check out Magic Cloth image focus…

Tiny Comet Aurora

Tiny Comet Aurora

This night photograph, from Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Iceland, captured Northern Lights and a comet disappearing into the North sky over Iceland.

Green Angel

Green Angel

This is the best place you could possibly stand to photograph the Northern lights. Once you have captured floating glacier icebergs with an aurora reflecting in the still lake, it is difficult to top.

Photo Gifts



RSS IcelandAuroraPhotos

  • Rising sun Blue Ice Aluminum Print : Jokulsarlon Iceland by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    53.66 GBPThis stunning beach scene was taken at Jokulsarlon in Iceland. As the sun rose it sent red light scattering everywhere and even made this blue, glacier ice glow red in places. This diamond beach wall art printed on aluminum dibond looks amazing and lasts a lifetime. As it is light it is well-suited also […]
  • Velvet Ice Beach Aluminum Print : Jokulsarlon Iceland by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    69.90 GBPThe sky can be colourful an hour before sunrise on the diamond ice beach at Jokulsarlon in Iceland. The dawn colours light up the ice and the black sand has a velvet texture. This is one of my personal favourites from the ice beach. Iceland landscape art printed on aluminum dibond looks amazing and […]
  • Iceland : Kirkjufell Aurora Aluminum Print by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    63.67 GBPA colourful Northern Lights display behind Kirkjufell mountain is reflected in the small lake on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland. Night photography printed on aluminum dibond looks amazing and lasts a lifetime. As it is light it is well-suited also for large formats and art pieces. Colors are highly saturated, even in large […]



Pin It on Pinterest

Share This