Back Modifications (6)
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Back Lilghte Foliage

By fotolooney
I like to shoot fall foliage back lighted much of the time, especially the yellow aspen in these parts (Northern Black Hills, South Dakota, USA). The colors pop a lot better than front lighting and occasionally come close to resembling the neon look of aspen in Colorado. I had to trade my wide angle lens for a short telephoto because of ghosting problems. Any suggested improvements are welcome.

Tags: Landscape and travel


dark_lord Plus
15 2.4k 598 England
18 Oct 2019 7:45PM
This is an attractive scene, and yes baclighting can make a scene glow, especially on screen (or in the 'old days' as a projected transparency) more than even the best glossy print would.

That said, the greens and the visible bare branches show some coldness of tone, so the image needs a little warming.

It looks lioke you've tried to darken the sky at the top right of the image, leaving quite a bright area below it where it appears to have no detail to retrieve. That's where shooting RAW may have helped as often there is detail recorded in those files that's lost in the jpg. Certainly your camera is capapble of that. Alternatively, shoot to get detail and lift shadows (again your camera is very capable in that respect in terms of maintaining image quality. Or, take two different exposures and combine them.

Yet another alternative is to compose without any sky in frame, which would work very well here.
The building seen partially through the trees is teasing, and vies for the viewer's attention with the white sky which, at the end of the da is a distraction. With just the building to occupy the viewer there becomes some mystery, such as who lives there, what do they do, etc.

I'll try a mod.


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mrswoolybill Plus
13 1.7k 2096 United Kingdom
18 Oct 2019 9:41PM
I would be interested to see the original file, this has had a certain amount of work. If sky is causing complications you can simply omit it from the frame.

Two thoughts - the first thing that struck me was the amount of blue in the frame...

And then, it's a subject, it needs a composition. You used landscape (horizontal) format, which leads the eye to explore from left to right, but there's no real sense of progression that way. The interest rises upwards, from foreground to sky.

I've uploaded some modifications. First I simply removed the blues, and made a Levels adjustment to boost darker tones.

Then two portrait crops, because portrait leads the eye upwards, which is how this works for me.
capto Plus
7 5.9k 13 United Kingdom
18 Oct 2019 10:45PM
A gorgeous irresistible scene. I notice that the image had an Adobe profile, the following is the uploading advice given by Epz ..For best quality, upload the highest available resolution.
Use sRGB color space. Using Adobe RGB (1998) will result in loss in density and contrast.
I have done a mod with the profile altered and colours tweaked in PS using the HSL tool. I have never had the good fortune to view scenes like this, so have used my imagination to guess what the result should be.
paulbroad Plus
12 131 1285 United Kingdom
19 Oct 2019 9:10AM
As above. You should NOT use any profile other than sRGB for general use - most use. The subject is good but is washed out and not very sharp anywhere. I would be increasing the density but you need to teach yourself to recognise this yourself. The colours, in such a scene need depth. They need to be strong and vibrant.

Often half a stop intentional under exposure can help. We often did that in the old colour slide days to increase colour density. Digital lets you try both and see the result instantly.

dudler Plus
16 973 1535 England
19 Oct 2019 12:03PM
There's nothing wrong with using a long lens for landscapes: often, they allow you to focus on detail that the wider view suppresses,

The lack of sharpness really bugs me, as your camera should be capable of superb resolution. Even though it lacks image stabilisation, 1/320 at 70mm is not a big ask!

I can also see some grittiness that suggests a good deal of sharpening in processing, so I'm very keen to see the original image. The combination makes me wonder if this is a pull-up of a small aprt of the frame.

The degree of processing makes it hard to decide whether there's full sun providing hte backlight: one of the best landscape photographers on this site says that he needs light, composition and location, IN THAT ORDER, for his images.

Auto white balance is always risky, unless you process from RAW, and adjust carefully to give the effect you want.

So, a couple of questions - do you shoot RAW? Was the camera on a tripod? Is this the full frame?

And the original file would be really good to see.

Unmissable conditions - worth staying around a long time to see how the light changes - you shot near midday, according to hte EXIF, when the light is least good for landscapes, on the whole. Very early or very late - the 'Golden Hours' - usually gives the best result.
banehawi Plus
15 2.2k 4045 Canada
19 Oct 2019 2:11PM
I wonder just how much back lighting would be present at 11:38 AM?

Am I understanding the concept correctly as you describe it Phillip? If not can you provide more detail, and I too would love to see the original if you have it. Load it here, click Modifications, then click Upload.


chase Plus
14 1.3k 272 England
19 Oct 2019 3:32PM
I'm really not getting the 'backlighting' here. The scene is pretty but I think you have probably over-worked the post processing stage.
For me and as the image stands ( without seeing the original) the sky spoils the frame and I, like others would have cropped that away to leave the colourful trees in the frame.
The blue cast is very obvious and is probably a result of using Auto White balance, you can correct it easily enough at the post processing stage, especially if you shoot in Raw.
Where does one go to respond to. the comments? Is this the place.If so, where would I download an original file to? And can you even download a Canon raw file?
banehawi Plus
15 2.2k 4045 Canada
20 Oct 2019 1:40PM
You upload the original JPEG before its been processed Phillip. This is whar we mean by the original. If you still a=have the RAE, do a simple unedited conversion to JPEG, thats the one we would like to see.

Click Modifications, then select Upload, and select your un-edited jpeg.

You are responding correctly by simple commenting.

Okay, I made one attempt to download this unprocessed photo but I don't see it anywhere so I will give it another shot.
I apologize for the long delay in getting back to everyone. Thank you for your comments. They have been helpful. I think we all can agree that the problem here is the bright sky. I think the only way to fix that is by doing some kind of sky replacement or as was demonstrated, cropping the sky out of the scene. I agree that leaving the blue in the scene was not the best choice. At the time, I thought it might add a sense of distance but it also left the scene a little cold. I was not able to get the original to download after frequent tries so I gave up on that. Things are only worth about so much of my time. As to the back lighting, when I am shooting into the sun I usually consider that back lighting even though, in this case the sun was about as high in the sky as it gets this time of year at this latitude. So, yes there was a significant component of top lighting in play here.

If anyone can walk me through how to convert the color space from RGB to sRGB I would be most grateful.

Again, thank you everyone for your comments and observations. They will definitely help me with future image files.
dudler Plus
16 973 1535 England
25 Oct 2019 4:51PM
No worries over the slow reply.

My big suggestion is to wait for the right light: the best landscapers make repeated journeys to their favourite hunting grounds, and check weather in advance, plus timing to be there in good time to set up for the morning/evening light. One particularly fine example, Colin Prior, has been known to camp overnight on the summit of a mountain so as to be able to shoot sunrises.
Thanks for the tip, dudler. You are certainly right to suggest "waiting for the light." This was a grab shot of a pretty good scene but it was a transient thing which we moved on from in less than a minute. Going back at a more opportune time would have been a good idea.

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