Post processing forest images

Hello everybody. So I am having trouble post processing this image. I like the composition but I don’t think I am getting the colors right or the light coming from the top of the image. I also tried some orton effect but I don’t think is adding much to the image but If I take it out the tree branches and the grass became too messy.

Anyway, any help will be appreciate it .

Thanks everybody

I think this image has a lot of potential, but agree with your assessment that it isn’t working quite right so far. You mentioned getting light from the top. Overall, I think the image is too dark. I did a bit of work applying an Adobe Camera Raw filter to add some light “streaks” with the adjustment brush. The streaks are very soft edged and hopefully not obvious. I also did some manual dodging of darker parts of the image and a very subtle boost of the greens / yellows based on a TK color selection. See if this is headed where you would like.

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You see yours looks much better and cleaner. I am going to try the same when I get home. For the adjustment brushes for the light you use just exposure add, or you add color to the stroke?.
For the dodging you use the PS dodging tool or you painted in an overlay layer?

Thanks man

For the Adjustment Brushes, I added some to the shadows, some to the exposure and added just a bit or warmth via the temperature in white balance. For the dodging, I painted on a soft light blending mode layer.

I prefer the original.

Hi Carlos, this is a great shot. I like the composition. Its about the forest and not just the waterfall which is great.

Processing wise I do feel it may be slightly dark in the dark areas only. I like the exposure on the brighter areas. A slight bump on the black slider may help some of those darker details to show through a little. Maybe a touch of shadows too. To me, the colours look good.

Something I like to do, although might not work all the time, is to desaturate shadows just a little bit compared to the highlights. This might help with the colour balance you are unsure of. Also, very subtly cooling the shadows may help too. I do this with a luminosity mask and cool photo filter. I am not near a computer to try this, but might be worth playing around with the shadows a little bit.

It might not work on this image again, but something I like trying on forest scenes with water is to add a very slight blue tone to the water, cooling it off ever so slightly so the water isn’t a plain white colour. This sometimes off-sets the green foliage nicely with slightly cooler water.


Carlos, I like the view you have of the overall environment, yet this image also feels somewhat intimate due to you pushing in close to that fallen tree in the foreground. I really like the near / far feeling that your composition creates in this scene.

I like the processing advice that @mark2 gave you, those kind of subtle things can make a big difference in how the image looks. I too feel like the original is too dark, Marks comment about it being too dark in the dark areas only is how I see it as well. One minor nitpick would be to clone away the two grey rocks in the LRC, they are minor distraction, since they are brighter, and near the frame edge, pulls my eye away from the center.


Thanks everybody for the comments and suggestions. I am going to get to it and see if it gets better.

It really helps to see the image through other photographers eye.

I think I prefer the original too. I like the darker tones.

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Lot’s of good thoughts already. I think you’re starting off with a terrific and somewhat unique image. I say unique because I like that you’ve really featured the moss covered log up front rather than go for the standard waterfall scene. I think the dark corners and darker presentation work well creating a “deep forest” mood and atmosphere.

I like Keith’s edits as well. In fact, had Keith’s version been the original post, I’m guessing folks would still comment about the darkness - his version is just relatively lighter than your original. Hope that makes sense.

One thing the darker corners help with is simplifying the scene overall by limiting what distracting elements can be seen. Plus, again I think the mood is enhanced.

Sorry I’m not much help in terms of processing suggestions. I guess the first thing is deciding on where you want to take the image (or where it wants to take you…)

I think something between yours and Keith’s works for me.


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Beautiful shot, Carlos, but I’m conflicted between some of the responses. For me, the thumbnail seems too dark but when enlarged it comes to life beautifully. Enlarged it reminds me of the Baroque style of painting from Rembrandt or Vermeer perhaps. That said, I like some of what Keith introduced but not to the extent he suggested, both in brightness and overall coverage. I think a little bit of judicious placement of light in the center area might be nice while allowing the outer areas to remain a bit darker would be nice. I also think Mark’s idea of de-saturating the shadows might have merit. Those are just thoughts, but a more solid suggestion would be to be more selective with your Orton effect by choosing NOT to apply the ffect on the water itself. Just my .02 cents, of course. A great platform to play with and many options available to choose from. Nicely seen and captured!

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I definitely prefer your original and the spotlighting effect it provides. However, I would try to light the shadows in the lower left just a tad. I also feel the waterfall brightness could be lower. Just some thoughts on a very nice image.

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