With a mid-tones lift and some burning and color cloning -
While waiting for sunrise and testing out compositions, I aimed the medium telephoto down into the valley for some narrow slices of the rock and especially this little seam of green down there. I don’t think it’s a stream creating that, but the natural runoff that occurs after rain and snowmelt. There isn’t as much rain as snow here in the Badlands so it takes a hardy plant to survive, especially in the bottom of valleys like this where this is also little sun except for midday.
This one was really difficult to process. First the light is pre-sunrise so an odd hue and getting the color right was difficult. The rocks are quite light and pastel pinky orange with bands of gray, but nothing is vivid, at least not in this light.
Specific Feedback Requested
I’m open to suggestion as to processing and/or cropping. This is nearly full frame with just a touch taken off the top and bottom to eliminate a dark bit in the LRC. I have a few other frames and a vertical orientation as well, FYI.
Lr for RAW work including a white balance adjustment, linear masks left and right to amplify colors, textures and tonalities, radial mask in the lowest parts to manage green and add a touch of warmth. Photoshop to play with masking to bring out contours and more texture in the rock itself.
I bet this was a cool scene to stumble upon!
My biggest feedback is that there is no light - it all seems quite flat, so perhaps some black and white conversion and some dodging and burning using lum masks could be useful, although I think it’s pretty smushed in the midtones. The crop itself seems ok to me.
I like your composition. It looks like people walk out on that ledge. Did you? Must be cool to stand out there like that.
My suggestion is less contrast and a bit more brightness. It feels a bit ‘heavy’. I checked my monitor to make sure it wasn’t set too low cause I can change it by moving my brightness dial.
The flat light does make this a challenge to work with, but I like the reddish gray tones with the pop of the green down the middle. I took a shot at an edit. I adjusted the levels, gave it a slight s-curve, dodged the green grass, burned the red areas, and then finished with a 28% luminosity orton effect.
I quite like this because it has a lot for the eye to explore. I wouldn’t mind seeing it a bit brighter as I think it would give this image more life. I played around with it in Photoshop to try it, but I’m hesitant to post it because I’m at work and I’m afraid that my monitor isn’t very accurate. Soo… I guess that means you should take anything I say with a grain of salt.
Thanks @Matt_Payne, @Igor_Doncov, @David_Mullin and @Tom_Nevesely - I really appreciate the input and the editing - I agree that the mid-tones were indeed smushed. So I unsmushed them and did a little dodging and burning as well as some color cloning to make things a bit more uniform. I like it better. Thanks peeps!
I think the rework makes this pop more, Kris. Nice!
The re-work is a lot better!
Great job seeing and isolating this mini landscape; always great when one can extract such fine scenes from a much broader landscape. I especially think the meandering bottom of vegetation works wonderfully to let the eye move thru the scene.
I do agree with flatness of the orignal and I think some version between Igor’s and your reposts work much better than the original.
I do think one of your best take-aways from the trip (of course you had many!)
Thanks @Lon_Overacker - am working through a few of these slices, but this is the stand out so far.