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I have a hill-shading that I made using gdaldem hillshade which is already pretty good. I used the option -alt 60 to get nice contrast, but the problem is, that with lowering the light-source, also parts in the valley that are quite flat, are not really bright (white).

How could I improve that? I've seen that gdaldem hillshade doesn't have many options.

What other program could I use to improve that? I'd like to say for example: Everything below 20% incline should be a bit lighter.

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    Perhaps you could use some similar workflow than here groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/openjump-users/oedpVya8qNk/… and combine several hillshade images which are made with different settings. Another possibility that comes into my mind is to use QGIS and raster calculator. Create a mask from slope below 20% and use that mask for lightening your hillshade image. – user30184 Aug 24 '14 at 14:02
  • That's a good way of permanently altering the hillshade. In the end it's a cartographic nicety so 'better' is a visual/personal opininon. To achieve lightening in ArcGis I use a custom colour ramp with 0-255 (black to white) then 255-255 (white to white) and use the min-max stretch. This doesn't affect the hillshade but when used with transparent 60% over DEM it shows up the bumps without masking too much on the flats - just a suggestion, this technique may not work in your software or it might not be what you're after. – Michael Stimson Aug 24 '14 at 23:11

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