How to make autumn more autumnal

When Dana Hunter mocked me for the wonderful expression I use for the title of my procrastination postings I swore revenge. Here it is. The procrastination posting.

She posted some nice pictures at her blog and I took one—the last one— and worked it over. Only slightly, of course!
That means, btw, that my usual licence does not hold here, because it is her picture and it is already illegal in several jurisdictions that I use it without asking her first.

I did not use the image in its original dimensions but reduced it to about 30% of its former size. Treating the picture in its full size would have allowed for a small but all over better effect. And would have used more RAM than I have which would result in the so called “Swap of Hell”.

The first step in any photography is to adjust the white point. The camera might have made a good choice here or the photographer might have made a good job adjusting it by hand but both alternatives assume a very expensive camera and/or a well experienced photographer. It is highly unlikely that anybody of the aforementioned groups will read this, so I just go on.

If you do have one of these cameras: for such high quality images you need a program that is able to work with 16-bit images like Cinepaint or similar and a fully colour corrected production line.

Gimp, Automatic white balance

Automatic white balance

The automatic white-balance works quite good in our case and we leave it there. You can adjust it by hand but that is not Quick&Easy and the focus of this post is all about Quick&Easy, so: nope.

The second step is to sharpen it. A bit. We use two layers here, where the second layer is just a copy of the image.

Gimp:Duplicate Layer

Duplicate Layer

Gimp: Sharpen


Gimp:Sharpen, Values

Sharpen, Values

Adjust opacity of the top layer to about 50%.
Merge the two layers with Image->Flatten Image.

The next step is to enhance the colours. To make it easier and more generally applicable I broke it down in two. At first enhance all colours (this macro has a lot of settings, so if you have some time at hand…).
Choose Lasm’s LAB Color Punch with the default values (take care that New
is checked).

Gimp: Lasm's LAB Color Punch

Lasm’s LAB Color Punch

Gimp:Lasm's LAB Color Punch, Values

Lasm’s LAB Color Punch, Values

Adjust opacity of the top layer to about 30%. (best is between 20% and 30%. Try it out but don’t overdo it)
Choose Soft Light from the drop down field above the opacity controller.
Merge the two layers with Image->Flatten Image.

The second step is an enhancement of roughly two colours: blue (more like cyan but that would be called blue, too, I think) and red. The visible part of the gable is yellowish. To get a better contrast to the yellow-red leaves (“warm” colours to “cold” colors) we choose Lasm’s LAB Ultra Vivid with the default values (take care that Ultra Vivid is checked and Flatten is UN-checked, we need the thing in a separate layer for later adjustment).

Gimp:Lasm's LAB Ultra Vivid

Lasm’s LAB Ultra Vivid

Gimp:Lasm's LAB Ultra Vivid, values

Lasm’s LAB Ultra Vivid, values

Adjust opacity of the top layer to about 10% (best between 5% and 15%. Don’t overdo it).
Choose Soft Light from the drop down field above the opacity controller
(should already be the case).
Merge the two layers with Image->Flatten Image.

One little extra could be done with the strength of the lights and darks. The lights are a bit dull and the darks are a bit weak. To intensify the lights and to amplify the darks we use the curve-tool.

Gimp: Curves


Gimp: Curves, values

Curves, values

Do not try to repeat the exact values as depicted above, try some yourself. Just don’t overdo it.

That is almost all what can be done Quick&Easy with one small exception: in the lower right corner is a, well, corner, a part of the window frame. Despite being foreground, which is good, such triangles almost always have the look of a cutten edge, a crease, if not even that of a smudgy little dog’s ear, which is bad.
The cut-out should get most of the foreground raindrops without the frame. I chose a fixed aspect ratio, too, but your needs might vary.

Gimp: Cut-out


If the prints are too dark/light don’t try to fiddle with Brightness, The right thing to do is to adjust the gamma-value. You’ll find it under Colours->Levels.



Increasing the value results in lighter pictures and vice versa. Try steps of a tenth. If you found the correct value (it will cost you some prints, no chance to avoid it) it will be the same for every print as long as monitor and printer are the same as the first time.
If the colours differ you have no chance but to do a colour correction of your monitor and your printer (if you don’t print yourself—high quality photo printers are very expensive—you have to trust the company. I could say: “Check the web for comments about that company” but that would be highly redundant, wouldn’t it?).
The wiki page about color management with Linux might give a good starting point.

That’s it. If there are errors in this post or worse: tell me, I’ll try my very best to ignore repair them.

Oh, and the macro function of her camera is not that bad, too, as the following comparison shows.

A plant. Before and after.

A plant. Before and after.


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