How to edit a woodland scene

I asked you over on my Instagram stories; “What videos would you like to see on the YouTube channel?”

You replied with editing and Wildlife videos.

 

Editing is quite daunting when you first start but when you do it step by step it becomes a lot more intuitive. I use Adobe Lightroom as it’s a non-destructive way to edit, meaning that if I change my mind at any point during the process I can make adjustments. Nothing is permanent, giving you more freedom to play.

How To Edit A Woodland Scene In Lightroom

 

To start the editing series I have chosen an image from the video in Grizedale Forest in Autumn. I show you my process and take you from the raw image to the final image.

The Raw Image

This is how the image looks straight out of the camera.

Initially, I look at the image and work out what I don’t like. Here I’m not keen on;

– The white balance as the colour is a bit over saturated/off.

– The dark area on the right-hand side, which funnily. I liked when taking the photograph.
(The dark area looks worse in the screenshot, in the video you can see there’s still detail there)

Changing The White Balance

Pressing the “W’ key and opening up the tab on the left-hand side of the screen. I move the dropper around the image until the preview shows a white balance closer to what I had in mind.

 

From here I use the “Temp” slider and adjust it until it is set to the right level

Adding Contrast

Using the contrast slider I went from left to right;

All the way to the left: The trees in the shadows looked better

All the way to the right: The trees on the left looked better

I settled with adding a little bit of contrast to improve the left hand side trees and decided to deal with the right hand side later

Adjusting the highlights

Similarly to the contrast, I slid the slider right to left. I liked how adding the highlights drew your eye to the grassy area where the track is so I added a slight amount. Adding too much made the grass look strange, but the subtle glow naturally drew your eye in

Bringing out the shadows

The shadows mainly affected the area of the trunks on the left and the area on the right-hand side of the image. Increasing the shadows helps add some interest so I added a little bit so you could see the trunks, but not enough so you could see everything.

Adjusting the whites, avoiding blowing out the highlights

Holding down the alt key and sliding to the right you could see where the highlights were being blown out. Fortunately, in this image, the only area that really got effected was the sky between the branches. There was no detail there anyway so blowing out the highlights wasn’t really an issue.

 

Similarly to the highlights, this added a bit of a glow to the image so I added in a little bit keeping it quite subtle.

Adding contrast with the blacks

Dragging the slider to the left increased the contrast between the bright leaves and the dark shadows. Initially, I brought this down to about -10 but at the end, I thought the scene was too dark for printing and brought it to around +10.

 

It’s important to keep some of the dark areas and shadows in the scene to keep it looking natural.

Balancing the scene with ND grads

Looking back I should have used an ND grad to bring out the details in the trees on the day. On the day I liked having the dark area on the right though so my thought process on the day changed compared to when I edited the photograph.

 

I used the ND Grad on Lightroom to add in some extra light and shadows to the right hand 1/4 of the image. This helped to balance out the scene as the right-hand side looked a bit too dark, which drew your eye to the right-hand side. This helped to finish off the scene and your eye was now drawn to the track in the middle.

Clarity

I finished off the scene by adding a little bit of clarity, I usually aim for about +12. If you take it too far the image looks quite grungy and unnatural. If you take the clarity slider to the left it looks pretty horrible (I’ve never found a reason to take clarity away)

The end result

Once I had made all of the above changes I made some final tweaks, bring the scene together and here is the end result.

 

The colours look more natural now and the scene is more balanced without the dark area on the right-hand side. If you like the photo you can get it as a print, here.

 

You can also join me step by step in the tutorial video as I edited this photo and hear my thought process behind why I did what I did.



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