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  • Jennifer Brecheisen

"Golden Innocence"- 10 Steps to Capture the Essence of Fall in Your Photographs



I've seen a lot of local photogaphers doing some great fall pictures, but they don't *quite capture the essence of fall. This was one of my main concerns when preparing to shoot these. I thought I would share some things I did to achieve a warmer look without ruining skin tones etc. Mostly everything is done in post processing. I'm not a huge post processer. I generally like to take a group of photos and paste the settings from one on the others and be done. But sometimes I want to get all artsy. Even when I do composites it's normally just moving one image on top of the other and erasing stuff from one layer.


1.) I shot during the golden hour. My aim was to have the light directly behind the subject, but it worked out for the sun to be behind and to the right a bit. If the sun is in the subject's eyes, they will need to squint-not attractive. With the sun behind the subject you normally have 2 options: 1.) expose for the subject and have a blown out bg (which as you see in the top right hand corner I do have that), or 2.) expose for the background and use a flash. This leads me to point 2.

2.) No flash-Many times with children this age they are running around too much to set up a flash. I don't particularly care for on camera flash, and there was so much fluff in the bg, that I didn't feel the need to pop one on. I had one to the side that I set up; however, there was A LOT of running around prior to this, so I let it go by the way-side.

Here is the og image. I have the D600, and it shoots a little green already. I went into the camera settings and added a smidgen of magenta, but it was too much, so I already fix that in post-processing. Now this is a raw image, and there is so much info in a raw image that they can be a little bland. With raw images there is almost always a little tweaking to do no matter what your histogram looks like. Usually I add a bit of contrast and clarity. This image was a little underexposed. I have a tendency to shoot on the dark side, because when an image is blown out, the information is lost. If it's a little underexposed you can up the exposure and shadows a bit without creating noise.



3.) Lightroom processing-To the left you can see what I did in the basic settings, but what I want to point out is the HSL group. I felt like the yellows were too subdued, there wasn't enough orange, the red didn't pop, and there was too much washed out green. As you can see I moved the auqas to greens, the greens to yellow, the yellows to orange, and the orange a smidge toward the red. The picture below is my final lightroom picture. I think it turned out to be a great fall pic, but I didn't feel like it "captured the essence". I opened it up with the lr adjusments in ps. I'm quite sure my photographer friends will prefer this one to my final edit.


4.) First I needed to remove the little toy in front. With larger set ups like this that are contrived, many times it's great to use a tripod, so that you can do composites. I took as many pix as he would allow and then I took pics of just the set up. The pumpkins moved around a bit, but it was no problem. I like it with 3 little ones in it as featured in my final image. I put one image over the other and then erased some of one of the layers to remove the toy.

5.) I then decided that the trees were a little too in focus for my vision. I used an 85mm, which can give you great bokeh, but the bg trees were too close to the subject for what I wanted. I used a layer mask and used the lens blur filter. I then just painted what I wanted to be blurry. I eventually painted a little bit of that orange tree to his left back in focus on the leaves closest to him to make it seem a little more realistic. I wanted a very creamy look to say "simple" and really draw your eye to just the subject.

6.) At this point I decided to warm the image up with a warming filter. Essentially I did the same thing here as I did with the blur. You'll notice that it's not as warm on his face or clothing. His white shirt was straight yellow, and his face was BRIGHT. I left a bit more warmth on his face than some people would care for, but it's my vision, my image, my feeling. (There are many do's and don'ts with photography, but sometimes the rules can be broken, and it's ok. Art is subjective. If it's yours, then do what YOU like.)

7.) I FORGOT to remove the chromatic abberation, so I had to do that at this point. UGH-my least fave thing to do honestly. It's like ringing up groceries at a grocery store-boring and tedious.

8.) Since I used a tripod I had leaves from another image, so I just moved them into the image where I wanted. It looks like he's waiting for a leaf to fall into his hand, but he's actually curious about and perturbed by the pumpkin he got on his hand. ;)

9.) I then added an auburnish / brownish vignette that I hand painted at about 60% opacity (just so I could see it well), and then I lowered it after than.

10.) The last thing I *should've done before publishing this image would've been removing the blown out area in the top right corner. Poo on me!


I hope some of you find this helpful, and if you have an easier, more efficient way of doing these things that allows for total control still, please comment and let me know. If you use my steps, share a pic with me! I would love that.

Jennifer Brecheisen

Photographer | Rock Hill SC

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