Hidden Treasures

One thing I have discovered is I do not know (yet) to understand what can be done with a raw file. So shot, I recently took in the late afternoon light and just loved the light. (yes, I shot to the Left) a bad habit I need to break. But in the last year, I have leaned towards the moody.

But what can you do with this File? I know, in another’s hand, this could be more. I edit 99% of my images in LR. PS is probably where this next year needs to take me into the world of more.

Raw File

_F7_2881.CR3 (20.8 MB)

You may only download this file to demonstrate how you would process the image. The file is Copyright of the photographer, and you must delete the raw file when you are done. Please post a jpg of what you created, along with an explanation of what you did and why you did it.

My Edit (click to see)

Hi Ariel,

Thanks for posting this challenge. I took a stab at it.

First, I must say this is a fairly chaotic scene. there’s a lot going on and it’s hard to determine what the main subject is. My first thought was to try to simplify the scene some…to do that, I cropped from the top and the left:

Then I did some basic processing:

  • Changed the White Balance because I felt it was a bit too warm
  • Adjusted the Levels
  • Adjusted Exposure, Contrast, and Saturation
  • Adjusted Highlights and Shadows
  • Minor adjustment with Curves
  • Added a Vignette to bring focus on the primary tree

I also took out a few stray branches on the right.

I don’t know if you’ll like this at all…it’s just my take on the image.

I also converted it to B&W just to see how it would look:

Again, thanks for posting this challenge. I enjoyed the challenge.


Hi Ariel,

Thanks for posting the challenge. I can certainly see the draw to the lovely late afternoon light. While agree with David on the overall color balance being a little warm - I wouldn’t want to lose the warmer highlights which I think is consistent with afternoon light. So one goal was to retain that warmth, at least in the highlights.

I also agree with David that there’s a lot going on and the crop simplifies things a little bit. Rather than just do the same crop, I’m going to offer a different crop in addition to the processing work.

And that’s the beauty - or advantage of having the RAW files because there is so much that can be done with the unprocessed file - as evidenced by what was able to be pulled out in my Angry ocean challenge. No I’ve never worked in LR - although it’s my understanding that Adobe Camera Raw, ACR and LR basically have the same “engine”, LR probably just adds the other organizational and end-to-end flow to process an image.

Anyway, I started in ACR:

  • cooled the overall WB a tad, although increased saturation and luminosity for the green and yellows.
  • increased vibrance and also bumped up dehaze, clarity and texture.
  • cropped and cloned/healed a number of bright spots and several of the distracting sticks and twigs. The taller crop emphasizes the verticalness of the trees, but more importantly reduced the distracting distractions on the left.

Brought in to PS:

  • duplicated bg layer, made smart object
    - ran thru Topaz DeNoise AI for noise reduction and sharpening
    • brought back in to ACR again to work on highlights, yellows and greens
  • TK’s Dark’s Triple Play (Tony Kuyper has many wonderful Luminosity masks and tools panels that I and many others use frequently. As you progress in to PS, keep the name in mind or bookmark goodlight.us ) This layer raised the shadows and shadow detail a little bit
  • Selected the highlights in the bottom green swampy area to boost their brightness - I felt these streaks of light deserved attention complimenting the afternoon light striking the trunks.
  • added slight vignette to keep emphasis in the middle where the light is mostly
  • resize and some additional sharpening with TK’s web resizing action.

I can’t speak for all, but for me, this is what “developing an image is all about”. No longer are we constrained by OOTC - out of the camera. My primary objective when processing is literally to “make the image the best it can be.” Which, does not mean, make a crappy image in to a work of art… but elevating an image to at least the next level (I’m speaking generally about my work, not your image!) :slight_smile:

Let’s see how this looks posted:

edit: well, I can see the highlights are too yellow/green, especially up top. But I’ll leave as is for reference.

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Thanks David, I do like the BNW conversion. The sun kissed trees is what drew my eyes to this little Scene. Appreciate you accepting this challenge. interesting to see how others see it and the cropping. mangroves are a bit chaotic. especially when the alligator is trying to steal your attention. :grinning:

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Thanks, Don! I appreciate seeing how you processed this as well. It is such a delicate balance with sliders. It takes a little to improve an image and a little more to over-improve it. lol

this is a neat thread it will be great to see the possibilities. Thanks

I just saw this image in the Processing Challenge. I like this image and the kind of mood it has. I wanted to push the mood a bit further and work on some color balance and warmth.


Pushed the shadows as far as allowed
Created a mask on the trees and desaturated the green
A few minor exposure tweaks

In PS:
Color selection the reds in the background to increase vibrance
Curves adjustment to bring up overall exposure
TK Darks Triple play
Freehand vignette to darken parts I thought were too bright
Selective dodging to create more texture in trees and shrubs
TK Midtones 2 mask to brighten those selected areas
Orton effect as a smart object, but only at 12% - very subtle change
Small crop from the left side.

Here’s the result:

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Keith thats for the details and explanations! You definitely kept the mood I was drawn to.

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite threads.

So interesting to see how different we are all. I love seeing possibilities and new techniques. I see your a TK panel user does it make PS easier to navigate for you?

Not sure how you did the Orton effect? I will have to play with that a bit.

There are some convenience buttons in TK that make navigation easier, but if those weren’t there I wouldn’t miss them much. I’m comfortable in PS with the existing interface. The TK buttons are nice, but the real reason for TK is luminosity masking to create very accurate adjustments that are targeted to just what you want.

That was one of the TK actions (Smart Orton). It puts it on a Smart object for easy adjustment later if you end up not liking it.

The learning curve for PS is certainly longer than for LR. LR Develop is great (ACR is the same thing with very few differences), but PS is where images come to life for me with fine tuning and the power that PS brings to the table.

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