Magical Forests by Albert Dros. How to shoot and edit forest images

October 29

9 min. to read

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In this article Albert Dros, a Dutch landscape photographer and Skylum Global Ambassador, shares the tips you need to know when photographing forests and editing them. Check it out!

Photographing forests is something I absolutely love! But it’s challenging. Finding the right compositions and constantly changing light can be hard work. On a beautiful morning I can simply spend hours walking in my local forests and trying to find new angles. In this article I’ll give you some tips on how to shoot in the forest and on how to use my newest Looks pack for Luminar to help you out in getting the best forest images. 

Shooting in the forest

When you’re walking in the forest everything can look very messy. It’s important to look for things that stand out. This can be an interesting tree, a bunch of interesting trees together, mushrooms, interesting branches, contrast, it can basically be anything as long as it stands out of the mass. These things are not that easy to spot in the beginning and walking around in the forest can be overwhelming regarding photography. First, try to use your telephoto lens. I recommend a 70-200 or 100-400 in the forest. By using your telephoto lens you can zone out details and make it easier to find a composition. Just look through your viewfinder while slowly going from left to right with your camera and you’ll notice it gets easier. 

I love photographing the forest with all kinds of lenses. Wide-angle lenses can be amazing too. Try to get an interesting foreground with leaves or mushrooms. Or an interesting branch. And try to look up sometimes as well! You’ll get entirely different views by looking up from time to time. These can also be great abstracts.

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Follow the light

When the sun is shining it’s important to follow the light in the forest. The light keeps changing as it peaks through different tree branches. So you only have a short time to shoot that particular light or composition. Walk towards the light, and not away from it. If you walk away from the incoming light you just see a complete mess with shadows everywhere. If you walk towards the sun you’ll get separation and good contrast with incoming light, and the darkness from the trees. 

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The base of your images

When using my Looks pack for your forest images you’ll want the base of your image already looking nice. It’s very important to keep this in mind when you want to achieve the best results. And always shoot in RAW so you have as much data available to work with. The Looks will push the light in your images, make tones and contrast stronger (or sometimes less) and add glow to specific parts and color ranges. Therefore it will not work if the base if your image does not contain anything interesting. You will not suddenly get an amazing image if the base of your image lacks composition, light or a nice subject. 

Getting a proper base often requires nice light. I recommend going out early when the sun is just up. Humid mornings work best, as this will require light rays that look great in photographs. Super foggy days look also amazing as they make for amazing separation between trees and make it very easy to shoot. You’ll have to keep an eye on the local weather predictions and learn to ‘know the weather’ to get the highest possibility of a successful shoot. 

The Looks

I created this Forests Looks for the use in my own images first, and then tweaked them and cleaned them a bit to offer them for the general public, you! I figured it would be a good time to release them during or right before autumn as autumn really invites people to photograph forests. However, forests can always look great. I love shooting them in winter when they look very mysterious, or in summer when everything looks beautifully green. Basically, a forest is always nice.

Because forests look different in different seasons, I created a bunch of Looks that are suites for a lot of different forests and light. Included in the Looks are also some creative Looks that are changing color. The trick to creating magic forest images are mainly to use effective split toning and add glow in the right places. This is what this Looks pack does. Here are some of my favourite Looks — check them out! 

Forest Enhancer:

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This is one of my most used Looks. Sometimes it works great as a base to work from, and sometimes it just works in 1 click. This Look makes the image a little bit cooler and strengthens the image in the right places. It just works on a lot of forest images to give them that so-called ‘mood’ that is often very pleasing in an image.

Golden Autumn:

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This Look is great when you’re photographing forests in autumn. It slightly shifts the hue making everything look gold, adds glow in the highlights and changes the highlights to a warmer color. This just looks magical on a lot of autumn images, especially if you shot them in the right light.

Mystical:

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I use this Look mostly when I am shooting very foggy forests. It gives the image a very cold atmosphere that works very well when everything is completely foggy and looking a bit ‘scary’ already. It just adds that extra touch that makes it look very mysterious.

I would like to emphasize that these looks are sometimes ‘too much’ when applying them to some images. I did that intentionally so you can simply drag back the ‘amount’ slider a little bit and get the desired result.

Video tutorial!

These looks also include a 15-minute video tutorial where I explain how to use the Looks and how you can tweak/build your own!

If you decide to buy these looks, make sure to let me know if you like them and show me some images created with them. I’m always happy to take a look and give feedback :)

Happy shooting!

Albert

Check out Albert's Ultimate Guide to Forest Photography

Download Magical Forests Looks at Luminar Marketplace

Follow Albert Dros on social: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.

Written by

Albert Dros

Skylum Global Ambassador

Albert Dros is a Dutch landscape photographer based in Amsterdam. His work has been recognized on a worldwide scale and he has been published worldwide in the biggest media outlets. Albert travels a lot as a photo educator but also for personal projects. But even in The Netherlands, he can’t stop photographing. His inspiration never stops.

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