The Ouachita National Forest was established in 1907 and is the oldest national forest in the southern United States. It covers approximately 1.8 million acres of land from central Arkansas into Southeastern Oklahoma. Being only about a 45 minute drive from my house, it is easily accessible and provides fantastic views of autumn’s colors in all their glory. It can truly be a breathtaking experience.
I shot this image of autumn foliage on a late Sunday afternoon. It was incredible to see the way the reds, yellows, and greens of the leaves seamlessly blended together. While the day started out sunny, clouds started to move in. This created the dramatic lighting effect seen in the image with the trees in the foreground appearing to glow while those in the background remained in shade.
Unfortunately, the clouds were a flat monotone gray with no texture and were rather boring. In order to get the picture I wanted, I had to do two things. First, I lowered the camera to eliminate as much of the sky as I could without losing the apparent depth of the scene. However, this still left a large expanse of sky that overpowered the rest of the photograph. So, the second thing I had to do was replace the sky entirely in Photoshop.
I keep a number of sky photographs in my photo library that I can use just for this purpose. When replacing the sky, it is important to match both the tonality and direction of the lighting or the picture won’t look right. Many people may not be able to say what is wrong with the photograph, but they can tell something isn’t quite right about it. Once I found the right sky image from my library, I replaced the original sky with the new one. The image above was the final result. With this one change, the sky enhances the image rather than detracts from it.