This image started out with some typical problems. The sky/clouds were much brighter than the rest of the image. Being on the coast, there was fair amount of low lying mist which caused the rock in the background to be a bit washed out.
Let’s start with the base image information:
Shot with a Canon EOS-1D X and a Canon EF 70-200 F/4L IS USM
+1 EV exp comp
Tripod mounted with IS turned off.
I started out by doing basic processing in Lightroom 5. This included adjustments to exposure, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, clarity, vibrance, some luminance channel adjustments, and some sharpening and noise reduction. All these adjustments are contained in a Develop preset with some minor tweaks to some of the sliders.
I was close but still not happy with the results. I could have corrected clouds and rock somewhat using the adjustment brush tool in LR5 but there are limits even with this fantastic tool. So I sent the image to PhotoShop CS5.
In CS5 I stated by creating luminosity masks (LM) for Lights, Light Lights, Darks, Dark Darks, and Mids (all my terms used in my PS actions). LMs allow me to target specific tones in an image and apply curves adjustments to just those tones. I start with the Mids LM to bring out mid tone contrast. I then tweaked the Lights and Darks LMs (didn’t need to use the Light Lights or Dark Darks LMs). I still wasn’t quite satisfied with the clouds and the rock in the background. So on to selections to isolate just those areas. I use Quick Masks in conjunction with a Wacom Intuos tablet to accurately “paint” these areas in Quick Mask Mode and then turn the QM into a selection. I then save the selection as an Alpha channel so I can use it again. For the clouds I used a Curves adjustment layer to bring out the texture in the clouds and define the white point. For the rock selection I again tuned to a Curves adjustment layer to reduce the haze and set the black point. For the rock adjustment layer I also used a ‘Multiply’ blending mode with 50% opacity.
Here’s the final image:
Thanks for looking.