Image Editing: Making Your Fall Photos Pop with Artistic Flair

by | Oct 29, 2020

Article by Mike Simpson with writing and photography by Sayantan Basu and additional photography by Eddie Chan

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Are you Ready for Our Fall Photo Tips? Read On

Fall photography is magical but how can you make your photos artistic and not look cliche? We offer tips to help you with your edits, from planning to editing, and avoiding over-processed images.

We have a few simple tips to get the topic started. Some of these apply generally to photography as a hobby and others are specific to autumn image making.

Do:

  • Enjoy the setting and the moment (it’s not just about photography!)
  • Consider unusual angles, macros or close-ups and unique setups

Do not:

  • Overdo the edit with too much vignetting or colour saturation
  • Colour your entire image with the Orange Dip look (it’s too unnatural and homogenous)

Enjoy Fall Trips

Remember to enjoy the outing. In some sense, taking photos or creating art is secondary to just getting out and enjoying the outdoors in beautiful cool weather prior to winter. Fall especially involves hiking or road trips and adventures in new spots! Bring a friend or two and enjoy the exploration and scenery.

Of course the photography may be the prime motivator for getting out and about so be sure to plan accordingly. Bring a backup camera or batteries and sd card so you can avoid running back to the car or chasing after power outlets. If you know your gear and are prepared you can then worry only about enjoying the experience and arriving safely and on time to your destination.

We think that autumn photography allows for many experiments. As our featured photographer recommends in the list at the end of this article, try some macro photography, reflections or play with depth of field to get unique exciting looks in your photos.

Avoid Cliches and the Orange Dip Filter

There’s a tendency in Instagram photography to constantly seek symmetrical images with very warm tones. Fall is full of opportunities to find asymmetrical and novel compositions via meandering paths crooked tree limbs and even leaves with unusual shapes.

Don’t destroy the light and dark values on a fall pathway or details in the trees or edge of frame with overly aggressive vignetting. You might be tempted to create a Lord of the Rings style pathway but don’t destroy the detail in the shadows!

Whatever you do avoid the pitfall of editing out all the colour of the landscape into a monotonous orange blob. We have called this the “orange dip” factor. It’s dull. Yes you can use hue adjustments to turn yellow to orange or orange to red but try to maintain a range of colours. Pops of green and yellow really add to the tones of orange and red – keep them in your shots, even if you desaturate them or tweak their values.

General Tips for Your Shoot and Photography

Of course editing is only half the process, it pays to plan and use a variety of techniques for shooting. For general fall photo shoots landscape photographer Sayantan Basu has the following recommendations:

Planning – Before you load up your camera gear and head out on a road trip in search of the perfect shooting location, you probably want to have a good idea where you’re going to capture all those spectacular fall colors.

Composition – To create a sense of perspective, including an object of interest in the foreground like a log, large stone, or use the lines and curves of roads, paths, rivers, and streams in the foreground to lead the viewer to the subject in the background.

Reflections – add a little creative flair to autumn photography by using reflections from the water. Waters from a tranquil lake, Creeks, rivers, and ponds can produce a stunning mirror-like reflection.

Close-ups – Use your macro setting or a telephoto lens to capture stunning details of the trees and leaves.

Depth of Field – For most landscape shots, aim to get the entire scene in focus by using a smaller aperture like f11 or f16 but don’t hesitate to play with a bigger aperture and introduce a nice depth of field.

Vibrance/Saturation – While editing in Adobe Lightroom or in Adobe Camera Raw I will suggest not to increase the vibrance and saturation too much – pop the autumn colour but not go too far. Make sure it is pleasant for the eyes as well. The dropper tool can tell you if you are overdoing the saturation values. The best option is to play with the HSL panel. Split toning is also a nice option for autumn photos.

As we already discussed, try to avoid cliches and “orange dip” looking images that reduce the colour palette. We like the idea of using the split toning as mentioned above. If you edit shadows with cool blue tones you can introduce some values that reflect the changing season, from fall to winter. Introducing some blue in the shadows also allows one to have some elements of the timeless “blue / orange” color grading process. (This is also sometimes called “teal / orange but if you use it we encourage you to keep closer to deep blue shadows rather than green).

Desaturation can be your friend. Usually only a few certain subject areas of the image need to pop and be sharp and saturated. You can go the opposite way with the saturation tool and remove specific colours completely or desaturate them. Sometimes grass is too vibrant and removing some of the green allows the fall leaves to pop more. Skies can have too much blue.
If you desaturate any blue tones in winter skies to bring more drama. In the edit of the feature image the skies were originally bluer but we desaturated them for a stormier, cloudier look.

Is There a Place for Photoshop?

Yes there is, but it’s obviously no substitute for catching a great image and doing that image a service by editing with sensitivity and restraint. We prefer for fall photography to avoid compositing elements but removal of elements and fixes are fair game.

In the feature image by Sayantan, the editor removed cars in the central area near the tree using processes like clone and stamp and content aware fill. The cars distract from the focus on the tree and the house. Of course this kind of editing is disliked by some purists but we believe it presents reality with an artful romantic twist.

 

We hope you enjoy your fall photography and photo editing – it’s a spectacular time of year to create visual art.

 

Thanks to our contributors:

Sayantan Basu and Eddie Chan

Visit Sayantan’s website:

https://sayantanbasuphotography.wordpress.com/

 Visit Eddie on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/eddiemarkhampyro/ 

Special thanks to our Fall Series Sponsor:

ego ride share

Tdot Shots

Tdot Shots

Author

Tdot Shots is a website and IG page supporting photographers & artists in Toronto, Canada. Check us out at tdotshots.com and @tdot_shots on insta!

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