Before and After Forum; Spooky Forest

The Before and After forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.

Benjamin Rowe wk24 before


The idea for this picture was to create an enchanted haunted forest, using a picture I took last year while mushroom picking. I had taken bracketed shots at two stops and decided to create a 32 bit HDR but instead of going back to Lightroom like I have shown on another “before and after forum” post, I processed this image straight in Adobe Camera Raw.


The first adjustment I made was using a curves adjustment layer; with this adjustment I would change each colour separately to create a colour shift. With the adjustments in blue creating a more yellow tone, the green adding a more magenta in the green shadows and red adding more cyan in the red highlights.


I next used the selective colour adjustment layer; to change the foreground colours and give the greens a bit more of a push.

I added a gradient map selecting a blue for the shadows and yellow for the highlights. I wanted to soften the shadows and warm the highlights slightly. I also added a curves adjustment layer to create more contrast in the scene.
I felt that the image was missing something to make it feel creepy and decided to add some mist.


To create the mist I used a round blunt brush and painted white on a new layer in a natural continuous back and forth motion. I then blurred the layer by about 125 px and set the blending to overlay and the opacity to 50%. I duplicated this layer and set the blending to softlight.


Although everything was starting to come together I really wasn’t happy with the image at all. It didn’t have the enchanted feel in the colours and I decided to make some drastic changes and turn the image more into a spooky forest. I deleted the curves and gradient map and added a black and white adjustment layer with a preset that emulates a daguerreotype image. I also added a curves layer to increase the contrast.


I like the outcome of the image as it has a creepy feel to it and I for one wouldn’t want to walk down that track alone. Sometimes when editing a photo it is good to put your hands up and say something isn’t working, as you can always try it again another day. For me the mist works well in the final image and I am glad I kept it. In hindsight the mist wasn’t working with the colour version and I think I will retrace my steps to see what will happen without the mist step.

Benjamin Rowe wk24 after

As always please feel free to to let me know what you think in the comment box below.

Also tomorrow (November 1st)  is the hashtag challenge #1day12pics on Instagram organized by @LovingOurPics and @my_cre8ive, if you want to take part please check out my round up post from last month to find out more information.

Please to head over to Stacy’s Blog and check out all the others participating in the forum today. Just a reminder that you have until the 6th of November to vote in the before and after forums poll, which will choose the image the participants will be editing for the half year post. Head here to vote.

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17 thoughts on “Before and After Forum; Spooky Forest

  1. This winter, when I have more time, I plan on coming over here to learn from you. I really love the way you teach how you edit your image. I think this photo is great! Thank you for this post. Love, Amy

      • I am really grateful because I am self taught. I have learned so much on my own AND through WP blogs. I intend to be here a lot. In fact, just so that I don’t um get unfollowed on your blog, I will put your blog on my desktop. That will insure that I will have your blog available to me. Again I am truly grateful for all you are doing. Love, Amy

  2. Ben, I love how you stepped back from the image and took an entirely new direction. It’s good for everyone to learn that post-processing usually isn’t a straight shot approach. I think the image in B&W is spot on – and you have definitely achieved your spooky feeling. The mist effect is just awesome. I really need to try this. Thanks for the shout out for Week 23 voting!

    • Hi, Stacy you are right, editing is not always a straight direction and some times you have to meander around. The mist effect is good, when you duplicate the layer I would play around with blending as it is usually different for different images.

  3. Nicely done, Ben. It was interesting to see how you took one road for a while and then were inspired to shift in a totally new direction. It goes to show that one needs to remain open to new possibilities.

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