Late last fall, we received a lovely planter. I left it outside and over the winter, I watched it as it changed. One cold rainy day, I decided to photograph it. I was drawn to the arches formed by the dead foliage, as well as the shriveled red peppers that still held their vibrant color. After about 50 shots, I decided on this composition. I used high speed sync to isolate the subject from the background. This was helpful given the amount of natural light that existed at that time of day. I was drawn to this composition because it reminded me of an old master's painting. 
The first step was to import it from Lightroom into Photoshop. From there, I used the Camera Raw filter to do initial corrections, such as taking out the overall yellow hue, changing hue and saturation for the greens and yellows, increasing the saturation and luminosity for the red, and adding a slight bit of clarity and texture. 
Now that the color looked better, I worked on the background. You can see a faint outline of a white dish. That's my dog's water bowl and had no place in this photo. I used a soft brush to paint over any spots in the background that didn't belong. Finally, I used the crop tool to straighten the table that the planter was sitting on.  
I decided that the fallen foliage didn't add to the composition, and instead, was a bit of a distraction. I then spent a bit of time removing it. This was by far the most time-consuming part. I used a combination of the clone tool and layer masks to remove the unwanted foliage. I also used a layer mask to remove some of the unwanted foliage in the planter itself. Finally, I used the dodge and burn tools to bring out parts of the table while hiding other parts, to give it a smoother look.
The last steps were all about fine-tuning: zooming in to make sure I removed anything that I felt was a distraction and using some final tools to finish the image. I also played around with using texture overlays to make it seem more like a still life painting. However, I felt the sharpness of the foliage and the lighting were what really made this photo pop, and decided against adding anything more. Sometimes, less is more. A final step that I take on all of my work is to look at it on multiple screens to make sure it looks good on the tablet, phone, and computer. 
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