Ok, here goes… a true challenge because #1, as close as I’ve ever been to a Leica… ha ha - but for sure first time seeing or attempting to process a RAW file like this. So yeah, my normal tools not available and so had to resort to some basic tools; Levels, burn/dodge and some adjusts in ACR.
But first, I wanted to do this challenge because I have a personal connection here. Unlike David B’s Bandon sea stack where I don’t have an emotional tie, here this has meaning which may guide me in my processing. Both my parents are scattered in Monterey Bay just off Lover’s Pt, which is featured in the background here. Plus, I was just at this spot a month ago, right after the first big storm that hit CA last month.
So anyway, here it goes. My general approach is to first settle on format/cropping and taking care of any major repairs, cloning, sensor dust, all the basics. I cropped off the bottom mainly because the one rock formation bottom left pulled my eye and took away from the bigger, beautiful and rugged coast line. Minor clones - taking away the white car, and a bit of the sea wall on the right edge (didn’t want to crop it out.) And a slight crop from the top to give this more of a pano presentation.
Next, brought in to ACR for some basic adjustments, contrast, highlights/whites/shadows and bumped dehaze and clarity a little bit. As you pointed out, couldn’t do anything with HSL or any color adjustments.
Next used TK’s Darks Triple Play (thanks Bonnie for the idea!) to lift some of the shadow areas.
As a result of the ACR and TK TP adjustments, the contrast in the sky started looking nice. I think opened a general Levels layer, dropped the midtones, brought back some contrast and got the water/rocks looking decent - but then I painted out, masked out the changes to not affect the clouds.
Added a Brightness/Contrast layer to boost contrast a bit more in the clouds, then used a gradient mask to mask changes to the bottom.
Next some targeted adjustments using simply burn and dodge. I dodged/brightened several of the lighter rock formations, Including the distant rocks of Lover’s Pt, all to bring more attention to the rugged formations. Burned down one brighter area in the lower right. Oh, also dodged the water movement in the LL
Lastly I added a vignette. A little unsure about this because the image had quite natural and strong vignetting already from the clouds and the way the bottom of the frame was - Adding more vignetting - again, not sure. More of a personal choice but almost gives this a “window to the world” kinda look and feel.
To be perfectly honest, I’m connected to this place more emotionally when I see all the colors. However, in the vein of all the great B&W photographers, there ain’t too many landscape subjects that do better in B&W than this area of the CA coast.
Here’s my version, plus screenshot of the PS layers.