I took the intent of this exercise as being to take an image with limited contrast in order to experiment with the range of controls available for tweaking the RAW camera output, seeking to produce something less dull than the original. This was a lot of fun, and I am now far more aware of just what can be done with these tweaks, some subtle and some not-so.
The original is a bit ‘muddy’. I think that’s primarily down to the colours of the grasses being dulled by the overcast sky, and high contrast leading to the footpath sign losing detail. What makes the picture for me is the sweep of the sky and the footpath information which stops it being just another generic landscape.
For the colour edit I wanted to correct both those issues. I’ve boosted the exposure and lightened the shadows and blacks, nudging the contrast up a little to clarify the lettering. Whites were dropped quite a bit, letting the colours come through more strongly. Overall this is much closer to how I remember seeing the scene, which is from Ranmore Common looking across to Leith Hill – the tower is just visible.
I also had a play with B&W. Whilst I’m familiar with coloured filters from film days I found Photoshop’s versions didn’t quite produce what I wanted from the presets. In the end I dropped the luminosity of reds, cyans and blues, and bumped it up for greens and yellows. I like the lightness this has given the grassy area and the reulting contrast with the more distant landscape – it balances the sky to a degree, with the signpost joining them all together.
I also couldn’t resist the slight blue tint. It’s a favourite of mine, but maybe not everyone’s cup of tea.