Jan 27

How to transform a misty shot into a enchanted forest ? A 12 steps recipe

Here is my first tutorial on post-processing, I want to show you how you can easily transform a misty landscape into something enchanting with Photoshop. I used a picture of the forest in my example but it will the recipe I describe here will perfectly work for other kind of landscape.

Here is where we start, my original picture of the forest. It was a rainy day with a mist that produces a very interesting light -> this can be enhanced 😉



Step 1: First I want to enhance the colors (the ocher leaves and the green pines) as well as intensify the misty light on the top of the picture. I make a copy of my background layer and use the color lookup Photoshop filter (Image > Adjustments > Color Lookup), more precisely I use the filmstrock_50 3DLUT file which gives a pretty good result here. Of course you can do that with a couple of curves but the Color Lookup function is just more straightforward and time efficient for reaching the result I want:


Step 2 : I want to enhanced the mist, so I make a copy of the previous layer and apply a second color lookup adjustment filter using the FuturisticBreak.3DL 3DLUT file which desaturates the picture and applies a subtle blue tint. I want this layer to enhance the mist (add mist in fact) so I didn’t want any accurate details in it. Therefor I apply a Gaussian filter with a radius of 10px (Filters > Blur > Gaussian blur). Here is the result I get for this layer:


Step 3: I turn the blending mode of the layer to screen (usual for adding light rays to a picture) and lower the layer opacity to 25% (you can adjust the opacity to the level of mist you want on your picture):


Step 4: I intensify the haze by adding a new layer and using the Clouds filter (Filters > Render > Clouds) with a light gray color (60% luminosity). Then I lower layer opacity to 27%, change the blending mode to screen (as usual for light effects) and use the blendif mode slider to avoid adding a white veil over the darker areas of my picture (press Alt key when moving the slider to get a smooth effect):


Step 5: I add a curve adjustment layer to darken the picture in the middle tones:


Step 6: I add a new layer filled with a middle gray (50%) and change the blending mode to soft light, then I use a soft low opacity black brush to darken the lower part of the picture:


Step 7: I desaturate the ground with a new saturation adjustment layer (saturation set to -65)


Step 8: I create two new adjustment layers to increase saturation (+36) and vibrance (+19) of the whole image:


Step 9: I create a new curve adjustment layer and bend the curve down to darken my image. Then I invert the the mask layer and paint in white the parts I want to darken (mainly the ground and the trees on the right side):


Step 10: I creat a new blank layer and chang the blending mode to color dodge. I pick up the slightly yellow color of the background light and paint around the center of my image so as to add more intensity to this yellow glow. Then I add another clouds layer (like in step 4) to increase the perception of haze.


Step 11: I use three curve adjustment layers (with masking) to enhance light reflection on the ground, add a vertical light glow and a halo on the center of the picture, I play with each layer opacity to adjust the level of each effect and avoid a supernatural render:


Step 12: Finally I create a copy of my original background, apply a color lookup filter (EdgyAmber filter), change the blending mode to color and reduce opacity to 15% to add an orange tint to the whole picture. Here is the final result:


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to ask questions and submit your own picture using this technique.




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