Autumn leaves - when is the sky a distraction

Description: This is one of my earlies picture as a landscape photographers from an autumn workshop in the adirondaks in upstate New york more than 3 years ago. I was ecstatic about the colors of the leaves and took many pictures of them everywhere we went. This is one of the pictures that reminds me of the magical feelings of beings surrounded by their gorgeous colors.

Specific Feedback Requested: I cropped the picture several times until I reached this one so feedback on the composition, crop and post processing would be great. Specifically I always wonder how much of the sky to leave in these pictures, when they don’t have any color, as they draw attention. Thanks

Pertinent technical details or techniques: sony a6000 24-70 lens, 43mm, iso100 f/13 1/20 seconds.

Is this a composite? (focus stacks or exposure blends are not considered composites) no

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Woodlands are one of the most difficult subjects in photography because they’re chaotic and finding a composition can be challenging. Most of the time you don’t want any sky. When shooting from outside the forest at the forest you usually want a sky with features in it. You have some nice colors in the leaves. I remember seeing scenes like this and taking such pictures during my year in New Hampshire. I think you’ve captured the country roads in the fall nicely. The image is a bit soft in focus. Usually you want it very sharp or purposely blurry to give it an impressionistic look.

Tamar, fall colors are nicely saturated under overcast skies and this view shows that. However, that overcast sky often shows up as a nearly pure white, which detracts from the view. In this case, the sky portion is dark enough to avoid being a distraction and it matches well with the road. It does look like you’ve burned in the middle portion slightly which helps, however the burning-in doesn’t extend to the trees on the left. To even that out you need to burn in all of the open sky using a luminosity mask. That allows you to darken the sky without darkening the leaves. There looks to be significant motion blur, so I’m guessing that your 1/20 s exposure was hand held without image stabilization. If salvaging something from this image is important, I’d suggest adding a modest gaussian blur to everything, to make it like an abstractionist painting.

What beautiful colors you captured here Tamar. There is everything from deep greens to burnt reds and everything in between. This has a wonderful, country road feel to it. I like how you used the road as a leading line into the scene. As to your question, “when is the sky a distraction” is up to the viewer but for me it’s when it draws the viewers attention out of the main body of the scene. When I know I have a plain sky, either blue or particularly, gray or near white, I try not to include the sky in the scene because it ultimately draws the eye out of the frame. So for this scene you could have chosen to take a more intimate image by zooming in tight to some of the trees and their colors or choosing to take a panorama so you could include more of the road and the trees but crop out the sky. As has already been noted, it looks like there is significant motion blur ( I assume you were hand holding the camera) so you may want to play around with a Gaussian Blur as @Mark_Seaver recommended to turn this into a impressionistic image.