Denise McKay  

Fantasy Forest by Denise McKay

February 2021 - Fantasy Forest

February 2021 - Denise McKay


February 2021 - Denise McKay

Original 2

February 2021 - Denise McKay

Original 3

About the Image(s)

Camera settings ISO 1600, f 5.6, 1/80 sec hand-held in natural light.

This photo was taken in a tropical forest house at my local botanical garden. I was drawn to this tree trunk due to the texture and how the two different vines were climbing up the tree. I wanted to make this image look more imaginary than real so did the following edits.

In Lightroom I did basic edits to reduce noise, increase clarity, increase exposure on the lighted side of the trunk, and deepen the shadows on the darker side of the trunk, and reduced highlights (image 2). I then went into Topaz Studio 2 and added a preset called Expressionism. I customized the preset by reducing the opacity to 50% and increasing clarity and shadows in the Basic Adjustments layer.

I went back into Lightroom and used a graduated filter at an angle, to slightly increased exposure on the right background and where the light hit the front of the trunk. This resulted in image 3, which I thought would be my final, but I decided to take it into Photoshop and use the liquify filter tools to add a little more distortion in select areas. So I distorted the background some more using the Twirl Clockwise and then used the Forward warp to grab and distort small sections of the thick vine and some random leaves. So my actual final image had more movement within it and seemed a bit more imaginary.

13 comments posted

Witta Priester   Witta Priester
This is an interesting photo, and you've done well with DOF to keep the background soft. Like you, I'm taken with the vines on the trunk and the contrast in colors there. Your processing has certainly added oomph to the colors, especially the gold in the tree trunk, the purple in the leaves, and the blue in the background.

For me, "fantasy" forest begs for something MORE unusual, with more non-realistic processing than you've done so far. Since I don't know what would move this forward with your vision, I took a diverging approach.

An alternative way of processing this photo would be to de-emphasize the nearby foliage and the background, and put all the interest on the trunk and vine. Here's an example of what that might look like.   Posted: 02/04/2021 17:40:49
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Denise McKay   Denise McKay
See my new comment with edited image taking in everyone's feedback.   Posted: 02/21/2021 13:13:45

Linda M Medine   Linda M Medine
Beautiful image and great contrast to show off the vines. The only thing I would do would be to darken the hot spots in the background.   Posted: 02/05/2021 17:21:36
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Denise McKay   Denise McKay
See my new comment with edited image taking in everyone's feedback.   Posted: 02/21/2021 13:14:07

Connie Reinhart   Connie Reinhart
I would darken the hot spots also. You have a nice touch with liquefy and warp tools. When I try these tools it's either too much or too little. Very nice.   Posted: 02/10/2021 12:57:30
Denise McKay   Denise McKay
See my new comment with edited image taking in everyone's feedback.   Posted: 02/21/2021 13:14:31

Mary Hinsen   Mary Hinsen
Hi Denise - what a great fantasy image. I like the direction in which Witta is taking your image - more into the fantasy realm, keeping the background in the background and making the beautiful tree trunk and vine stand out.
I am interested to see what you get once you've played around with all the suggestions :)   Posted: 02/10/2021 13:46:09
Denise McKay   Denise McKay
See my new comment with edited image taking in everyone's feedback.   Posted: 02/21/2021 13:14:52

Denise McKay   Denise McKay
I've taken all of the comments and edited my photo further by doing the following:

Back in Topaz Studio 2 I added several layer masks to do the following:
- added a gaussian blur on the background only
- added a color overlay to the background only to add more green tones
- added an adjustment mask to desaturate some of the bright blues/purples, increase the blacks/shadows on the trunk only and darken the background
- added a filter that allowed me to increase the swirls in the background

I started to feel like I was just working this image to death and not sure if I should have just started over from the beginning, LOL! But here's my result.

  Posted: 02/21/2021 13:11:40
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Witta Priester   Witta Priester
I like this colorful version with the blurring and colors adjusted to keep the eye centered. I like the way the purples and blues add to the moodiness.
  Posted: 02/21/2021 15:18:59
Denise McKay   Denise McKay
Thanks Witta!   Posted: 02/24/2021 16:02:48

Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
Denise, I really like your revision! It focuses the eye on that lovely tree trunk! The blurring of the background and the complementary color set make for a very artistic image, in my opinion.   Posted: 02/24/2021 11:04:15
Denise McKay   Denise McKay
Thanks Georgianne!   Posted: 02/24/2021 16:03:06


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