How to get amazing fall color out of Photoshop

The 2020 5DayDeal Bundle

I’ve got a great fall color tutorial for you below, but I also want to share something else I think you’ll love. Every year, the 5DayDeal bundle offers a special opportunity to invest in great photography courses for >95% off. This year’s bundle includes tutorials from Nick Page, Ryan Dyar, Nigel Danson, Gavin Hardcastle, Mads Peter Iversen, and dozens of other world-class instructors on a variety of shooting and processing topics. And 10% of the proceeds go to great charities.

And if you purchase the 5DayDeal bundle through the links on this page, I will also send you a FREE copy of my Bonus Blending Course. This course is never available for purchase, only through special opportunities like this. It includes the RAW source file, written summary, and takes you through the complete exposure blending workflow from the RAW to the finished image. ​(Purchases through other links will not qualify, so please be sure to use the links on this email. Everyone who qualifies will gain access on October 22nd, after the sale has ended).


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How to get amazing fall color out of Photoshop

Every season of the year has its own magic, but for me, nothing beats fall color. This year I drove five hours and stood in a river for three hours shooting this waterfall. I was so excited I hardly noticed the temperature was barely above freezing. The colors were incredible, the sky had great mood, and the water looked silky smooth. But I hit a huge snag when I got home.

I had no idea how to process the image. Seriously. All my usual tricks were failing me. At first I thought I was a bit rusty from a year of being largely stuck at home. But the bigger challenge was the flat light. Fall days are like that. Sometimes you get gorgeous light, but a lot of times you get what you get – and then the leaves are gone. So I had to build my own light. After some experimentation, I figured out the right balance of blending, dodging, and other techniques to make the image look as exciting as it was when I was standing knee deep in the rushing water. Here’s the tutorial showing how you can create great fall color even in challenging light:

 

The key takeaways from this edit are:

  • Exposure blending with luminosity masks can always help enhance your sky. It’s also a very effective way to help bring out dark foreground detail without getting the sort of flat/fake foreground you’d get by just boosting the shadows slider in RAW or by using HDR.
  • The Selective Color tool is a powerful way to enhance fall color. It’s also pretty intimidating, so check out this tutorial to learn how to use it. A key point to remember is that you very often need to adjust the “yellows” to adjust what appears to be green trees or moss. We may disagree with how Photoshop classifies this color, but that’s how it works.
  • When changing the color of green trees, remember that they are also very dark. So try using a brightness/contrast adjustment layer with a layer mask targeting them to help Selective Color work its magic.
  • Dodging and burning through luminosity selections is a great way to add depth and dimension to foreground elements like the rocks, water, and trees here.


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