I’ve prepared a good edit of a photo very similar to the one of Chris Cheng in the recent blog post. I’m going to post it here, and then subject those of you still reading to some discussion of what I did to it, and why.
Here’s a flat jpeg conversion from the raw (no post-processing adjustments):
So, what did I do?
I rotated the picture to the right just a bit.
I corrected the color balance.
I adjusted the tone curve to suppress some distractions and emphasize important detail.
I darkened the bottom zone (grassland, and Chris’s jeans) and his left hand.
I lightened his eye area.
I took out the reflection of a big fill reflector in the left glasses lens.
I enhanced the puffs of smoke, both at the muzzle and the breech.
I cropped out some extraneous space at the left.
I retouched out a number of background distractions, including the flowers at the bottom right corner and similar flowers (but out of focus) just behind the right leg.
I retouched damage to the knurling on the collar where the magazine tube enters the stock.
I retouched a couple of color bars near the left crop line (the edge of a yellow leaf just making it into the picture in a mostly green area, for example).
I upped saturation a bit to bring the fall colors in the out-of-focus background out a bit more.
I darkened the corners just a bit.
I introduced a small amount of artificial pincushion distortion.
The final file has three curves adjustment layers, two of them with layer masks, plus one bitmap layer (I collapsed all the retouching onto one layer when it was done, since I wasn’t in doubt about it and the regions I retouched for various reasons didn’t overlap). Plus the background layer with the actual image in it.
Oh, and I used smart sharpen on the final version at final size.
This was shot at ISO 400, so I haven’t done any work with noise reduction, and haven’t had to be especially careful with sharpening to avoid creating a noise problem.
Most of this is faster to do than to describe. I did practice some techniques I’m not too good with taking out the reflector reflection (so that will be easier next time). And all of it is harder to decide what exactly I want to do than to actually do.