Pic of the Month: May ‘10

Fern Territory

Canon 40D, 17mm, f/2.8, 1/13 sec, ISO 800

As most of you know, I am not a proponent of dramatic post-processing techniques. I love realism and natural beauty. If a sunrise wasn’t brilliant, then why try to make it look brilliant on the computer? The art of nature photography lies in the ability, drawn from experience and understanding, to be in the right place at the right time to capture the beauty that already exists.

However, there are times when a little processing can add some spice to a collection of images For example, Fern Territory. As I was going through pictures of a short, late afternoon shoot at Hocking Hills State Park in eastern Ohio, I just about passed over this image thinking there was no real value in it. But the perspective intrigued me, so I decided to play around with it anyway. To my surprise, a complex combination of presets and tweaking allowed this masterpiece to emerge. These are the settings I used in Lightroom in the Develop Module:

  • Basic: slight increase in Blacks, Contrast, and Saturation.
  • Tone Curve: slight increase in Highlights, considerable increase in Lights, slight decrease in Darks, and considerable decrease in Shadows.
  • Split Toning: slight increase in Highlight Hue, increase in Highlight Saturation, increase in Balance, and slight increase in Shadow Hue
  • Vignette: varied, but considerably increased.

So, though I don’t recommend doing so much processing on a normal basis, occasional dramatic edits might help in transforming the boring.

 Original image A black and white variation.


  1. Esther June 1, 2010 at 6:17 am #

    That is a great use of post-processing technique! Transformed! It is such a picture of the glorious way God wants to transform each of us into the image of His Son.

  2. Photography Student NC June 1, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

    Quite amazing!! I agree that the original image isn’t spectacular, but with the tweaking… wow! It really draws out the rich, lovely green… reminds me of a tropical forest or something.
    This shot reminds me of the way the Lord can take a seemingly worthless life and change it into something beautiful and fit for His use!

  3. Donald June 1, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    Yes, quite a transformation. I always had an appreciation for jungle pictures and this piece really brings out those feelings of depth and mystery as well as contentedness or maybe comfort. We’ve enjoyed a very similar view in the evening woods here.

  4. Michael June 1, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    Good job on the picture! It’s amazing what contrast will do for a picture!! Yes you could take some strolls through our deep green valley full of moss-covered and fern-laced fallen trees and rocks and such here in West Virginia when you come. The greens come out especially brilliant right after it rains, almost glowing, and sometimes a beam of sunlight will shine through an opening in the canopy and illuminate a fern or mushroom or someting. You’re right about needing to be in the right place at the right time! By the way I’ve noticed that leaves are usually nicest looking before the middle of June – then the green gets duller and the bugs start eating them…

  5. James June 2, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    Good advice, Michael. I’ll keep that in mind.

    And great analogies too. I hadn’t thought much about analogies with that picture, but there are quite a few of them I’m sure.

  6. Aunt Judy June 3, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    That’s great!

  7. Dad June 3, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    We were impressed with the composition too. The way it draws your attention into the picture is beautiful. Great job James.

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