How to achieve such deep and vibrant greens like is popular with many PNW photographers?

I’m having trouble figuring out how much of this is true scene and lighting and how much of this is post processing. I follow a lot of photographers in the Oregon and Washington area and the way they bring out the green colors in these forest scenes are just really incredible. Vibrant, deep green, glowing, almost kind of perfect.

A few examples:
Alex Noriega
Alex Noriega
Michael Bollino

I think part of this for sure is time of year, rain, lighting, and overall conditions. But it looks to me like there’s some processing involved that really brings that color out. You can see in some of the images above that even in the shadows there is a really rich green glow in some areas.

I apologise if this is maybe a dumb question. It doesn’t look like simple color or luminosity adjustment to me. At least i haven’t been able to recreate it. Possibly light painting or targeted Orton effect?



At least for my images, it’s not Orton! I can give you several pointers for achieving those greens:

  • Conditions - the Columbia River Gorge and Olympic National Park in the spring are both insanely green in person.
  • Light - overcast light tends to bring out greens, especially in complex scenes like the Olympic one you linked. Direct light introduces warmth that competes with the green and makes for more contrast and visual complexity, thus throwing a lot of your potential green into shadow and giving it more to compete with visually. There was some direct light in the Elowah shot, but I tried to minimize its effect to show off all the greens that were in shade as well.
  • Use a polarizer - this neutralizes the reflectivity of the foliage which kills the green color in your files.
  • Cooler white balance - the warmer of a white balance you use in RAW processing, the yellower your greens will become.
  • Less magenta white balance - your camera may try to compensate for a green scene by pushing the tint magenta. This will kill greens and bring out browns in the trees and ground cover.
  • Push the hues of yellows back toward green - this may include much of the underbrush that would normally be brownish.
  • Desaturate oranges and reds - brown shades interfere with the feeling of lushness and green, so don’t let it compete with the green.
  • Light painting - try painting with a greenish color on a soft light layer in PS. Just be careful about the hue getting too green, or it will look nuclear and unnatural. Stick to yellowish-green hues.

Damn! Didn’t expect a response from you! Thank you so much for your reply. I’m new to the area so much of my shooting is indeed in the gorge area. I find i can often capture “how much” green there is, but the colors are often much more flat. I do just about permanently have my polarizer on shooting around here as well. I’ll have to experiment a bit more once i get home tonight with the advice you gave.

Thank you again!

Ps, sorry about the direct links to images. I’m on mobile and couldn’t figure out a way to link to specific photos on your site :confused:


No worries about the direct links! It’s one of the downsides of Squarespace as a platform for my website - no easy image links. But that’s why I disabled “right-click protection,” so people can easily get image links. I hope my advice helps!


Alex, thanks for the tips. During the summer, and once the Sierra meadows ‘green up’ after the snows melt, it’s often a challenge to get those rich greens just right. The tip about pushing the hue in yellows more toward green will be useful.

Thanks again,


Have you read Thorne’s Before and After article? He provides processing tips for the type of image you’re after.


Thanks to both @Casperson_CJ and @Alex_Noriega. I’ve often wondered the same thing, CJ - glad you asked the question. Thanks Alex for your tips, they’ll come in handy when shooting in the Florida swamps in the spring.


Just wanted to update that with the incredible advice here I was able to work with a few recent images and get results i was really happy with. Maybe once my financials are in a bit better shape I’ll be able to get the full membership and post some up for critique :smile:

Really appreciative of the help @Alex_Noriega and also @TJ_Thorne for his awesome content.

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Thank you for sharing this detailed check list. Much appreciated!

I might get hit for saying this but a quick way to make greens pop is to increase the saturation on the yellow channel (not green actually). It doesn’t work well in the Camera Raw Saturation slider, but in the good ol’ legacy Saturation slider (CTRL or CMD + U), ooching up yellow makes greens pop. So does the Dehaze filter in Camera Raw.

That’s the not-even-close-to-being a pro version, lol.