The "autumn colors" image is one of the all-time great photographic clichés, but that doesn't mean a serious photographer should avoid it. There is plenty of scope to do interesting things and have fun with photos shot when the leaves turn yellow, orange and red in the fall. I love yellow so am especially fond of birch trees in the fall - the contrast of the leaves against the white bark is a sight to behold!
The other thing I love about birch trees is that the branches often veer off in crazy-looking directions and angles, as in this photo. It makes for a dreamy, surreal feeling I associate with Vincent van Gogh's landscapes.
I shot this photo late in the afternoon on a dull day, so the ambient light was uninspiring. I used exposure and tone curve adjustments to compensate for that. I also used fine contrast adjustments to bring out detail in the leaves and tree trunk.
To accentuate the elements of most interest to me - the white bark and the yellow leaves - I darkened other areas of the image with tone curve adjustments and added a modest degree of vignetting to draw the eye toward the center of the frame.
I made a small vibrancy adjustment to bump up the color of the leaves a little. I used white balance and hue/saturation adjustments to eliminate the greenish/bluish color cast in the BEFORE image.
Finally, I cropped and changed the aspect ratio (to 4:3 AFTER from 3:2 BEFORE) to make the birch tree more prominent and remove uninteresting space.
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