Like pretty much all photographers, I’m out with the camera a lot this time of year. Sometimes more than I feel inclined to. Is it weird that I sometimes feel pressured to get out and take pictures even though there isn’t anyone standing there with crossed arms and a tapping foot? Like I’m a dancing monkey or something.
I do love it and it is an incredible time to be outside, but it somehow feels a bit like work and I tried really hard to get my head out of that mindset this year. Am I the only one or do you feel like that a little sometimes? It’s stupid, unproductive and just false. No one is making me go out and I have no obligation to do so. But it still feels like a relief to have some fall photographs each year. That I’ve done my duty and been a good photographer. None are jaw-dropping, but damn if I don’t love some direct sun in golden leaves. And the smell out there! It really is wonderful and I wish I could bottle it for that dreary, frozen mud and sticks time of year. Oh wait…I can.
Look at how different it was back in September!
I don’t cheat too much with processing when it comes to these kinds of shots, but I do tweak things to help bring out the qualities I want to emphasize. In the one just above, I used to color sliders and nudged the yellow toward orange, green got a little cooler and the oranges got a little bump in saturation. That last to make the trail a bit more distinct. I also slide the highlights down a tad and lighten the shadows a little. It’s sort of a fake HDR, but closer to how your eye will naturally adjust within a scene with drastically different light values. I draw the line at making it look fake, but I do want it to look magical.
Shadows still have to look like shadows and a slight wind will make things a little soft, but I don’t mind. The softness is something I’ve been emphasizing in these kinds of light-filled shots. Even though it’s direct sunlight and can be harsh, the effect through the leaves reminds me of stained glass and overall I want a peaceful feeling. The brush tool and the graduated filter in Lightroom help me achieve this with selective clarity settings.
I also do a little lens correction when it comes to distortion – reducing that bubble look of my very wide angle and putting the trees at an angle that looks more natural.
For all of these I used a tripod and a polarizer. The polarizer will reduce reflection on the leaves and really bring up the color.
So I’m going to stop beating myself up about what a proper photographer should be doing and just enjoy myself and being out there.