Recently I have been sifting through my archive of RAW files. Looking back through trips undertaken years ago is a somewhat nostalgic experience. Some unprocessed photos taken with my old camera caught my eye. I couldn’t remember why they were passed over the first time, maybe due to technical deficiencies such as poor exposure or flare. Perhaps they were ugly ducklings overlooked in favour of more impressive pictures from the same shoot. I put some through my current post processing workflow and was pleased with the results – you can see examples here and here.
I remembered the first photo I posted to an online forum. It is a sunset photo of a distant Mt Warning in New South Wales, Australia. I now know after examining the filename it was the 191st photo I took with a DSLR. I was pretty chuffed with the results at the time. Looking back I’m embarrassed to say, but willing to admit it looks flat, dark and boring; a far cry from the warm mood and gently rolling hills I was trying to express.
For fun I decided to try improving on the image. Surprisingly I still had the RAW file on my computer. For a more subtle mood I started with a lower overall contrast, and enhanced the tonal separation in the shadows and midtones. This produced more detail and microcontrast. To emphasise three-dimensional depth, contrast was increased at the border of light and shade as the sun washed over the apex of the side-lit hills. The colour temperature was made slightly warmer and enhanced. Finally resizing and sharpening was performed.