Photography, Reworks

ReWorking a Tree in a Field

Someone recently stated that a lot of people doing digital images go way too far, of course they were nice enough to say I wasn’t one of them, but I feel I should confess that I have been in the past, take a look at this image.

One Tree Hill - OriginalAt the time I did this, I thought it was great.  I even had it printed and put it into a show last year.  This image was featured in a blog post in June 2011. It is an interesting post, it was at a time when I felt I didn’t know enough about Photoshop and I was trying to teach myself how to use it.  I think I’ve come a long way since then.

When I read the comment about digital images, I thought it would be fun to go right back and see what it would look like now if I was doing it.  Would I change much, or would I leave it pretty much as it was.

One Tree Hill - ReworkedThis time it was opened in Camera Raw and processed.  Camera Raw is a great editing tool, I don’t think I could live without it now.  You can do some amazing things in it that you just can’t do in Photoshop, or other editing software.  Though I should state that Camera Raw is part of Photoshop CS6.

When I processed it this time I wanted the moody sky to determine the atmosphere of the image.  Toning down the red of the dirt was also important, the trees were to become the focus of the image.  Some gradient was also added to darken the sky more and tone down some of the foreground.

The rework is much more natural looking, though it still has a surreal quality about it.  Of course, you knew I would use Color Efex and Silver Efex as well, I had to see what I could do in them.  Color Efex first.

One Tree Hill - Color EfexThis filter is called Monday Morning.  I am not really sure about it, according to the list it is for weddings, so maybe it would look better for people, I should try that.  I do like what it has done to the tree, and I don’t mind the overall effect, but perhaps Silver Efex would be better.

One Tree Hill - Silver EfexI do like this.  I really like the atmosphere and the mood that has been created.  The Low Key preset was used for this and the Lens Fall Off 2 Vignetting was used.  It’s interesting to see how the focus really is on the tree and the sky behind.

Which do you prefer?  I was thinking today how long it takes me to work on images sometimes, meaning, that I will do it at one time, then go back and rework it, and I know there are images that I have reworked that I will rework another time.  I suppose it is like a painter reworking a painting, sometimes it is hard to know when you are finished, or if you ever will be.

The weekend is here, and hopefully the hot weather has gone.  It hasn’t been as hot here today, but it has been very humid, I think I prefer the heat.  Humidity is fairly recent here, with what is happening to the planet we are noticing more and more humid summers.

I have plans to get out with the Nikon D5100 to take heaps of photos, I really want to see what I can do with it.  Fun weekend for me, I hope you will have a good one too.


  1. You are right about the first image!! I love the last one – the tree is so clear against the sky and they blend together well to form the nucleous of the picture. The second image, the more natural, is also very appealing, the tree standing out well against the backdrop. However you look at it, it’s a very nice photo…

    • Thank you Kirsty. I had no idea that the tree would get so much attention. I like what you have said about each one.

  2. I am always impressed with how much you can improve on a picture that was pretty good to start with. Nice work!
    Blessings ~ Wendy

  3. Leanne, nice that you took the courage, to share your thoughts and examples of editing. First I like you last picture best, because it is more subtle and for me expresses more drama. Yeah it’s a thin line with editing. For me, but that’s of course also personal taste the more subtle the better.
    Just go as far as your brain accepts it still as being natural I think. For the real purists a question: Would Ansel Adams have used the editing possibilitied of today if he hed them in his toolbox?
    Love your photography Leanne

    • I really like what you have said Johan, I am all for natural and seeing how far I can push it. The last question, I think absolutely. Thank you.

  4. Oh my Leanne,
    I must tell you I LOVE the first one but I’m sure after looking at my art you see why. It shocked my senses and I want that. I want to ask questions and feel deeply, positive or negative.
    Very Yummy that you explore!!!

  5. For what my opinion is worth, the first image is way over processed. The second one seems to me to be more natural (but then I didn’t see the original scene), and the b&w version is quite good; meaning I like it!

    It’s interesting I have read a few blogs lately with other photographers stating the exact same thing. Too many images over processed! I’m (like a lot of others) old school: get it right in the camera. I guess that comes from shooting expensive film for many years.


    • I totally agree Fred, the first one is way too much, the second one is much closer to the original, well as much as it can be.
      I have been reading stuff too and it seems to be that digital cameras don’t take photos quite the same as film did, so photos need some processing, though not always as much as some people do. I used to do it, but I have wondered if it is a process that we all have to go through. It is a thought. Thank you.

  6. The one theme that runs through this post is the fact that if you start with a wonderful (original) photograph you can do anything you like. Depending on when someone looks at a photograph their thoughts and feelings about it can change.
    You start from a position of having great shots – adjust or enhance as you see fit, just share them with us.

  7. I’m think the Silver Efex images are the ones I prefer each time. The last imge has such an impact because the huge gap between the lightest and darkest tone. Simply striking :)

    • Silver Efex does a fantastic job, each time I do an image I find something new, it is great to work with. Thank you EllaDee. :)

  8. Nice rework! I do like the reworked image the best and then my second choice would be the monochrome image processed through Silver Efex. Nice article Leanne, it has me wanting to give a few of my images a second look… :)

    • It is a great thing to do Mike, we change and learn more and how you feel about an image can change as well. I know I have images that I have reworked, and reworked, but I still aren’t finished with them.
      Thank you.

  9. Interesting post – thanks! I actually like all – but for different reasons. As always it´s in the eye of the beholder. We were talking about soft focus, here the third image has a certain softness that doesn´t detract from the whole.
    Enjoy the weekend – it´s been snowing here – same world just different halfs!

    • That is very true Charles, different things work for different images.
      I have enjoyed my weekend, I hope you got lots of photos of snow. Thanks

  10. I prefer the third picture. It is all down personal taste, I find that what what I regard as my best work isn’t regarded as such by other people and what I feel is bordering on rubbish is much regarded. I suppose that happens to everybody.

    • It certainly does happen to everyone. We all have such different taste about so many things, and images are the same. I know I have put up images that I didn’t like and people have liked them, other times I have put up stuff and others haven’t liked it. It is funny. Thank you.

  11. Because I love color I was enchanted by your original photograph.But I found the others fascinating as I am a complete beginner.I intend to come back to look further…it’s a good way to learn.Thank you for making this post,Kate

    • It is a pleasure Kate, I like writing what I do in my posts because it is also a great record for me, means I can come back and see how I did things. Thank you.

  12. I like the first one you did also – it is over processed, but so what? The effect is very dramatic and unlike real life, drama in photos appeals to me! I also like the last one. I don’t think it’s better, just different. Art is a matter of personal taste anyway, right? I also find myself going back and re-editing old photos when I find a new style that strikes my fancy – experimentation is part of what makes what we do so much fun. If you don’t like the first one, it only means that it is not part of what you want to say, not that it is not good. I very much enjoy your work and am happy to come along on your journey. At this point in time, I am focusing on people photography. I take landscape and architectural type photos when I go places, but have not really delved into that yet. I usually don’t shoot in raw on vacation, so the editing is minimal. When I get to a point where I will start digging deeper into landscape and architectural, though, yours is a style that I am definitely keeping an eye on for instruction and inspiration. I find myself looking at your photos longer than most – subconsciously doing some pre-study I imagine!

    • Yes. Joylene it is a matter of taste, art appeals to each differently. I think experimentation is one thing that art school taught me, you have to try and keep trying new things.
      Thank you Joylene, that is a lovely thing to say, my style is evolving and I love that. Please join in my journey.

  13. I like the new versions much better, though they still don’t look natural to me – and nature is the ultimate beauty in my eyes.

    The perfect balance is achieved in your header photo – processed just enough enhance, without losing the subtlety of the natural shades.

    • Thank you Delft, the second image is pretty much how it was, it was overcast the sun was out in places. It was a strange day. I got some great images that day.

  14. Leanne, I actually really love the first one, then my second choice would be the last one……great photos. Amazing what a difference in mood that be achieved. xxx

    • It is a lot of fun Judy to play with the moods of an image, and something that I want to do a lot more of. Thanks.

  15. My favorite is the second picture. The details, colors and contrast are about what I like. They just bring the picture alive. The second place for me is the first picture. I like them all regardless.

  16. I keep going back through and I have to say my absolute favorite is the 3rd photo. The photo reminds me of the calm before the hurricane storm when the skies turn gray and dark and a gloom descends down. A bit dramatic but that’s how I feel of your photo. Love it!

    • The third one is a strange one, and it seems to be one of those that you either love or hate. It is so good that someone likes it. Thank you.

  17. luxaeternaimaging says

    I’ve gone to far in the past as well. I loved reading this post, I especially enjoyed when you compaired editing a photo to reworking a painting. I started as a painter, and I’ve had to learn that I can not approach my photography in the same manner I would a painting. I think I like the next to last image the best, I think it fits my mood today. Have a wonderful weekend with your camera!

    • You have some interesting points, I think most of us have gone through that stage of over processing and come out the other side. I like to think of my photography as using a similar process to painting, in the I would paint a painting for similar reasons to why I do what I do to a photo, if that makes any sense at all.
      It has been a good weekend, I hope you had one too. Thank you.

      • luxaeternaimaging says

        It makes perfect sence :) I have had a very busy week, and I love busy!!! It’s going to be an even crazier weekend with all the photos I have to edit.

  18. To my eye, there’s not enough colour in the first reworking to have it at all – it feels like a distraction – so I prefer the Silver Effex. I’m sure there’s a tendency to go OTT with Photoshop, and I’m glad I use fairly basic resources. Even these are an open invitation to jump in feet first, which I resist with a Puritan determination, then go off on the occasional binge.

    I’m shopping for a good (but inexpensive!) bridge camera I can grow into. Do you have any suggestion? Thanks.

    • It has been interesting what everyone has said and what they prefer, everyone likes something different. I think going OTT is very common when people start using editing software and then as time goes on they learn to tone it down.
      What do you mean by bridge camera, I haven’t heard that term before, is that a DSLR, or are you looking for a compact with some control over things like aperture?

      • A compact with DSLR features, so you can take automatic pictures but have the option of being more creative. It’s a fairly common word here for that type of camera. I want a better combination of resolution and zoom length. Some of the things I see with my eyes when taking the picture aren’t showing up in the image. It would be great to get properly detailed photos of birds and scenery. Frustrating.

  19. Hmmm…my favourite is the original. That isn’t to say the others don’t draw my attention…the first one is very intense but certainly catches the eye, I like it…the third is slightly washed out looking and the fourth is a strikingly moody grey toned shot (black and white so to speak) which I find compelling.

  20. realitytourist says

    Of course, the black and white one is great. But I like the Monday Morning effect as well, it has a nice mood. I’d remove all color (or at least all the red) in the foreground of that one. I think it would leave a subtle, hand-colored look to the sky and tree.

  21. The different reworks seem like the same scene at different times, seasons almost. Because the original composition has good balance and tension, I like all of them.

  22. saymber says

    It’s hard to decide Leanne! Depends on the mood one is in I think lol. The vibrant red of the first one is my favorite.

  23. 3rd and 4th both do it for me. In fact I’d like to see the 3rd image with the foreground from the 4th image!

  24. Silver Efex is wonderfully dramatic. The first image is more Claude Monet, whom I greatly admired as a painter.

    • Monet was a superb painter and artist. I think that is what I love about Silver Efex, how dramatic it can make an image, thanks

  25. Great analysis! Still being sort of a ‘purist’, I like the natural looking color photo (second from top) the best. I have Photoshop and never used it. Don’t even know how to use it. Perhaps I’ll look into the Camera Raw feature. Thanks for sharing!

    • You should try it, I think most photos need something, even if it is just a spin in camera raw. I was reading that that is one of the problems with digital. I might do my tutorial on it today. Thanks

  26. The first image (naturally) grabbed me! But the third image…that one HELD me. I prefer it by quite a bit. Though the first is so dramatic, startling almost, the second feels so exquisitely powerfully REAL! One thing I love is that in this final image, it’s clear what the focal point is – it’s the relationship between that bit of sky and the tree. I also love that you share with us the re-working of your images. There are powerfully good lessons here! Thank you!

    • I love how people tell me about my images spree, and what they see in them and how they feel about them, so it is great for both the viewer and myself, so I thank you for your insights into my image.

    • Yes most definitely, I am enjoying seeing what I can come up with, of course it isn’t always appropriate, but it is nice to on these posts to test the waters. Thanks RoSy.

  27. Admiration! Beautiful image to start with and interesting edits! I’m just in the very beginning…baby steps with Photoshop, but “get” some of your lessons, at least a little :) Thanks!

    • Oh dear, I hope they aren’t too complicated, I try to make it so that anyone can follow, but it isn’t always easy. Let me know if you have trouble, I would like to know. I hate tutorials that are designed for those that already know. Good luck with your steps, thanks. :)

  28. They’re all excellent interpretations, in that they convey different moods. From bright and bouncy in your first to the brooding in the B&W treatment.

    I think we all evolve when we post-process our individual work as we become more confident and familiar with the software we use.

    • Thank you David, I thought the same.
      I think you are spot on, we do evolve, and hopefully continue to evolve. I know I have when I look back at some of my earlier work.

  29. Justin D. Hatfield says

    Love what you did here. Its neat to see how much has changed in your technique over time. Me being new and learning a lot, I hope that I gain the insights you have eloquently shown here. Thanks!!

    • I’m sure you will Justin, it is just about learning. I think when I first put up this photo, I think, it was July last year, I felt an absolute beginner and now I feel a lot more confident, though I still feel like I am learning, I hope that never stops. Thanks

  30. You are so adept at altering images – really like the final two. You’ve definitely got me tempted by PS CS6.

    • I love it Richard, though I have been looking at Photoshop Elements 11 quite a bit as well, it is cheaper and seems to many of the same things, but it can’t do HDR, and it doesn’t have the bridge and camera raw. I suppose it depends on what you are looking for. I can’t wait to see what you do. Thank you

  31. The second color image shows light on the tree…the focus…lovely…and the last black and white as you know manages to show light on the tree and the ominous sky…again…the black and white reigns supreme…lol…this is why Ansel Adams is my favorite photographer…the absolute master in this medium using an 8×10 camera.

    • Could you imagine lugging around a camera like that, I can understand why he had assistants, also I think it would deter me from going out as much. Haha. I like what you have said about the images Tincup, thank you.

  32. It can prove to revisiting an older image can be so refreshing – nicely done Leanne.
    Lol, I too have been known to over process. I really like the fun look of your red field and dramatic sky.

    • Thank you PC PHOTOS, I think most of us have been guilty of doing that, I hope I recognise when I am doing it now. :)

  33. I like the 2nd & 4th one with the more natural one my preference. I can imagine how much time you put into post processing. I met a fantastic and highly professional landscape photographer who’s philosophy is that one shouldn’t spend more than 5 minutes or so, if so, then move on to a better shot. :-)

    • That is an interesting philosophy, and I do that with some images, and others, it depends on what I want to do with them. Sometimes I spend a lot of time, other times, I spend almost nothing, quick edit through camera raw and then nothing. Each to their own. Haha. Thank you Bella.

  34. petit4chocolatier says

    I love the first picture. The camera raw photo is amazing. And I loved the last photo too. I pretty much liked all of them!!

  35. I like the last one best. I like the harmony of the elements, and the way the tree was highlighted.

  36. For what it is worth I liked the first attempt as well as the latter. It is difficult to keep such depth in the image when editing like this, great work.

  37. I like the “Camera Raw” edit, probably because I prefer the natural colors. The reference to Ansel Adams was spot on, good thinking. For us rookies, I’d love to see an unedited photo as the start.

    • I often do that Colleen, but have stopped with a lot of them, I could go back to doing it again. People did enjoy seeing the images as they started out. Thank you so much.

    • It was really good, lovely spot. I went back a couple of months later and the field was all yellow from the canola, but I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of it, which is such a shame. Thank you.

  38. Love the limited saturation of the ‘Monday Morning’ filter, Leanne…unfortunately, it also blurred a lot of the tree’s detail. The B/W is simply stunning…the emphasis is very clear and the detail is crisp…so very perfect!

    • Yeah, I think the ‘Monday Morning’ filter is meant to be used on portraits. I might try it later on if I can get my girls to pose for me. I thought I would try some portraits with the D5100. I love what you have said about the B&W, thank you 1000.

  39. Great examples. I also like it when it´s more natural looking, although it can be fun to overdo i sometimes. Love the two last versions. :)

    • I think, or so one of my lecturers used to say, sometimes you have to go overboard to learn when to stop. It was great advice. Thanks Inga :)

  40. I agree, Leanne, I can’t do without Camera Raw now either! I didn’t used to shoot in raw but do entirely now. I like the Silver Efex photo best! Great contrast and moodiness! Thanks for sharing!

    • I still don’t shoot in camera raw, well I do sometimes, but with my other work that I do, I can’t because I always forget to change back, I’m hopeless at that sort of thing. I do love camera raw processing though. Thank you so much Paula.

  41. This was interesting and informative. I’m not a photographer, although I’ll snap a pic now and then, so it’s interesting to see all the possibilities of what an image can be. Nicely done. xoJulia

  42. Hi Leanne, I just shot some photos and think they would great in B&W. I can’t do that with the programs that I have and if I do have the programs I wouldn’t know how to do it. Let me know if you would like to play with them and if there is any cost involved. Email:

  43. Found myself nodding in agreement when you mentioned the Monday Morning preset. I have no idea whether even people would look good with that one (and I still give it a look now and then). :)

    Really really like the last image treatment. The tree is clearly the focal point of the image and it also serves to transition the eye from the foreground to that awesome sky.

    • I will have to try it more, I think, I did try it on one portrait then changed it, haha. :)
      That is great to hear, thank you gimletsandfilm

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