Post-Processing Challenge #508 - Winners Announced

Fred S

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Feb 20, 2012
Real Name
Fred S
Entry No 2
Some cropping and lightened up my original entry

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Mu-43 All-Pro
Feb 27, 2015
Wayland MA
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After I posted this challenge, I retired for the night. When I got up next morning I was unprepared for the rush of entries, which eventually swelled to 21. Every entry has its own beauties. Well done, group! I’ll try to explain the major axes on which my selections were made.

In the intro I mentioned fair weather, fall colors and the dog. If I had been a bit more forthcoming I might have also mentioned the Ruisdael sky and lighting. I am particularly enamored of the view of Haarlem with Bleaching Fields. The play of light from the clouds was my subject in this series. In fact, for what might seem like a placid landscape I was engaged in a sort of action photography. In about ten minutes’ time I shot over twenty frames. This is the only one of the series where the shape and position of the pool of light is about where things work for me, kinda sorta. Two seconds later the light was at my feet and the trees at the left were in shadow.

Which brings the discussion to filters. Thanks @Paul C for the reference to the very informative Joe Cornish vids. The point Joe Cornish makes in one of them about the ability to see the corrected image in camera allowing one to keep shooting with comfort, vis-a-vis the results, is quite persuasive. I’d love to have been able to use them, but the quickly changing light in this situation did not lend itself to either filter use or HDR. Besides, I do most of my discretionary shooting during dog walks, which is often the photographic equivalent to speed chess. No tripods need apply. For me, let’s just say that shooting raw covers a multitude of suboptimal circumstances, if not sins, per se. YMMV

As most of you discovered, there are a few jolly easter eggs hiding in the clouds’ shadow. Without them, the right side of the image dies from lack of interest; to me, bringing them out is critical.

I see the dog as largely optional. I normally take care to not include him in my photos but on this occasion I stayed put for so long I had to give him free rein to wander and I knew I could always edit him out…although he is a point of interest in the relatively empty right-hand third and he does add a scale cue, and that’s good.

In order of first entry.

rpatodia Colorful and crunchy. Both versions maintain interest and legibility along the line of trees but I prefer the second. The added contrast in the line of trees works well, but the darkening at the very tops of the yellow trees saps some vitality. The clouds are a bit too threatening for my eyes.

Robert Davidson The first is a fun experiment with Luminar 4’s sky changing tool. It looks very like a very impressive feature, especially in the way it deals with the partial screening on the left. But, with the ~six-hour mismatch between the sun’s position (which is close to correct for this field) and the shadows, the sky don’t suit. :( The second is a wholehearted embrace of the fall colors. Neat!

Thai-Mike An attractively moody version. I like the attention paid to the fallen leaves in the foreground. Extra marks for the explanation of your process.

GregRed The first displays really lovely colors in the trees. Some detail has been lost from the clouds on the left and the tree line on the right. For the second, tilt-shift or whatever, the Orton-ish effect is striking. Cool!

RichardC Cuts right to the chase by cropping to the left two thirds and inserting new clouds (Luminar 4). Nicely done!

frankmulder A judicious crop in as well as to 16:9. Nice luminance values. It looks as if some softening has been applied - an interesting effect.

Paul C The exposure of the first has been lifted in DxO. From the evidence of the blown patches in the clouds, it would seem that this tool needs to be used with care. The second, panoramic version is more successful.

betamax A crop to ~16:10. Dark and intense. Once I noticed the halos along the tree line, they were difficult to ignore. Compositionally, nice use of the dog on the right and I like the way the rut seems to aim at the intersection of the edge of the grass and the edge of the frame. Quite satisfying solution to the right side.

Walter In-your-face fall colors. Bravo! There’s some haloing that is hard to ignore, particularly around the dog. Also some loss of detail in the clouds at left.

Dinobe It must have been the dog’s day off. Lovely pastel interpretation. That cloud of empty branches on the right is quite nicely done.

Rob Rider ~3:2 crop. A nice intensification of colors in the lawn and trees without taking the sky into toxic regions. Hard to choose between the two. The first is catchier, the second is better balanced and somewhat more suited to my original intention.

Fred S You mentioned punch and that’s what you achieved. The first has a graphics quality that would grab the eye from across a room. The second, liberally cropped, is HDR-ish and repays close inspection all along the forest front. Impressive, both.

BosseBe The first is quite dramatic! I have trouble with the darker top branches on the aspens at left and the deadspot directly above the dog. Otherwise, quite attractive. I shall rank the second entry as a noble experiment since, sadly, selective color is seldom my cup of tea.

So, down to brass tacks. Thanks to everyone for your entries. Isn’t it astounding how such a simple scene can be taken so many different ways? Barkeeper, a round of honorable mentions to everyone. It’s even more wonderful that there isn’t one “correct” choice. Today, that choice is mine to make.

Second runner up - @BosseBe
Runner up - @Thai-Mike

Winner - @Rob Rider, either

A week or so ago, while I was cleaning up my hard drive I was also trolling for new screensavers and came across this series from 2015. Surprised I had never started to process them I became even more surprised when I saw what potential some of them had. This is my version, accomplished entirely in Lightroom:

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Last edited:


Mu-43 All-Pro
Oct 21, 2010
North Carolina, USA
A truly gorgeous scene very well captured. Apologies for the late non-entry, but the challenge is addictive and I simply must try. And I thought I might as well post my attempts. All the entries are so beautiful so I know it would have been quite safe for me to have entered :) I would also like to thank @Hendrik for the excellent judging, and, especially, for the critique which are worth studying, as well as to congratulate the winners for their well-deserved placements.

I edited the raw file in DXO PL2 then in Elements. Only minor tweaking of exposure, levels, and the like, and some increase in vibrance in DXO, and an additional dose of selective vibrance on the trees in Elements with a view of going a bit overboard. I chose to keep the dog :)

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Non-entry #2: I added a layer to #1 and used Nik Color Efex (sunshine) followed by a slight opening up of shadows in the trees in Elements; my aim was to go way overboard (for a change).

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