Scott Davenport Photography
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Fill In The Tree Line For A Richer Landscape Photo

When post processing a landscape shot with a tree line, take the time and fill in the gaps where the sky peeks through. You'll be much more satisfied with the final image when the trees look fuller and richer.

Here's an example I took a few weeks ago at Lake Vasona in the Bay Area. I was out to find fall colors, but the tops of the tree line were sparse (left image, below).

Gaps in the tree line distract the eye

Gaps in the tree line distract the eye

Cloning and retouching to the tree line

Cloning and retouching to the tree line

In post processing, I cloned and retouched in the gaps in the trees, eliminating the distractions (right image, above). For this image, I also needed to mirror the touch ups in the lake reflection. I also cloned out some lame ducks.

Handling the trees was my first step in post processing. Doing this up front made the remainder of the processing simpler. Roughly 20 minutes before taking this photo, the sky was a soft, inviting orange. By the time the sun rose high enough to light the tree tops, the clouds lost their color and mostly dissipated. Thankfully, I had taken a few snaps of the sky with my iPhone. Masking in the sky with the trees already taken care of made the masking job easier. Final touches included masking in more interesting ducks and accentuating the docks at the base of the trees.

The final image is below. I think you'll agree that the fuller, richer tree line adds to the photo and eliminates distractions. Keep this in mind the next time you shoot a landscape with trees.

Final Image