Change summer into autumn using extreme color adjustments in Photoshop

(Image credit: Peter Fenech)

Before: The photographer had hoped to capture autumnal colors in this forest, but these had yet to materialise. A return visit was not possible so software solutions had to be considered

Before: The photographer had hoped to capture autumnal colors in this forest, but these had yet to materialise. A return visit was not possible so software solutions had to be considered

After: By combining Photoshop’s range of color control tools, a natural mix of autumnal hues could be simulated, while retaining an organic color contrast

After: By combining Photoshop’s range of color control tools, a natural mix of autumnal hues could be simulated, while retaining an organic color contrast

(Image credit: Peter Fenech)

Step 1:  Make basic temperature adjustments

Open the RAW file in Camera RAW, Lightroom or Capture and adjust the white balance. Try selecting Shade from the Preset list and increase Temperature and Tint further, to introduce a warm cast. Increase Vibrance to improve understated colors. 

Step 2: Open in Photoshop

Many of the steps in this tutorial can be conducted in Camera Raw but here we will use the power of layer masks in Photoshop to achieve more interactive color control. Photoshop  also offers multiple color correction features, which can easily be combined

Step 3: Hue/Saturation

The first step is to strengthen the global warm cast. Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and make small alterations to the Hue of the reds and yellows in the image, to emphasise the dominance of these colors. Keep any saturation changes you make subtle.

Step 4: Selective Color

Use the Selective Color dialogue to tailor the balance of hues within each color channel. This control enables the user to blend colors for different effects, and for this image it has been used to introduce more yellow and magenta while holding slightly cooler shadows.

Step 5: Masking

It’s easy to create an unrealistic wash of warm color just by making global changes. Adjustment layers are good as they can be removed selectively using masks. To increase color contrast the warming effects were reduced over the trunks and ground-level green moss.

Step 6: Dodge and burn

To introduce some depth create a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer and change the Blend Mode to Screen. Invert the layer mask then paint in some areas of light with a white brush. Lower the opacity if necessary and build up the effect gradually.