Restoring November Light

Fallen Tree - Mac Johnson Wildlife Area, Brockville ON

These photos were taken in the late afternoon with a Canon Digital Rebel D400. Light fades quickly in November.

Leaves in November Light

After experimenting with various settings, I settled on Tv for more control over exposure and set the focus to Manual. The shadows had deepened and the colors were bordering on surreal but when I brought them into Photoshop, the images seemed drab and lifeless compared to what they had been in reality. I didn’t want to increase the saturation and risk blow-out in any of the channels – my days of increasing saturation were over shortly after I discovered that everything did not have to look like it had been shot in the Amazon jungle. I have old photos processed in my early Photoshop days that now belong to a category called “What was I thinking?”

Bringing back what we saw in the first place

To bring back a sense of what I had seen along the forest trail, working in the ProPhoto color space, I converted the images to LAB mode and gently steepened the curve in the A and B channels, leaving the Lightness channel alone. I reduced the effect about 50% and switched back to RGB for a little sharpening using the High Pass filter before converting to sRGB IEC61966 and reducing the size for web. The final result is much closer to what prompted me to take the photo in the first place!


Writer’s note: For me, November has always been a time when all things are possible. The world shifts in smoke and mist and musings can be rather melancholy. Light changes rapidly, leaving memories behind on the shore. It is the time of year I re-read books by Thomas Hardy. My love affair with November began with a novel I read as a girl. It was from the more innocent years of the early ’60s and was called Then Came November. There is the movie, Sweet November, that stayed with me for years. No, not the bad remake but the original from 1968 with Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley. Nothing stands still in November — hold each moment. Capture the thought for it is extraordinary!

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