Editing Muir Woods
I have fond memories of the Redwood Forests in California, recollections from family trips and camping retreats. Unfortunately, my recent visit didn’t live up to my idyllic expectations, and the lighting and weather were unkind to my camera’s eye. I wanted to express reverence of the grand redwood titans.
This shot was chosen because it contained people for scale and a sense of depth with the boardwalk. I cropped to frame the scene with two monolithic trees on both sides and to bring the horizon beneath the one-third line to emphasize height.
Shooting in raw and using Adobe Lightroom 5 lets me worry less about nailing settings on my camera; white balance I always leave to fix in post. I decided to raise exposure by half a stop, but lowered Highlights substantially to retain details. Also, I boosted Contrast, lowered Blacks and raised Whites to fill the spectrum.
My editing usually ends there, but sadly this shot was still lacking in color. Boosting Vibrance and Saturation helped, but I wanted to emphasize the complementary bright green and dark red. I used Split Toning to turn the shadows redder, then boosted the orange saturation and raised the green luminance.
Now, every dark tree trunk stands out strongly against the brightly lit leaves, and the colors, although unnaturally vivid, still feel… right, like something that I’d find in my memories.