It is important to me to get as much of my creative work done within the camera rather than on a computer using Photoshop. I’m by no means against manipulating images, but I work with a handicap. I have a colour deficiency in my vision (In the old days we would say colour blind). So by leaning on my knowledge of how to capture the image properly in the camera, I avoid a lot of computer work later. So while I do manipulate my images to achieve the results I want artistically, I still do as much in camera as possible.
Here is an example of how I create an image.
If you look at the histogram, you can see that none of the channels are close to being blown out. The histogram is nicely filled out almost to the right end which gives me the most options of how I want the final exposure to look in the print. Notice that there has been no bumping of any of the the import settings. Everything is zeroed.
Once I open the image into Photoshop, here is what it looks like.
Notice that the white foam and the water have no detail to them. The exposure is ok, but they need some help. This is where adjusting the contrast brings a photo to life. If there is any secret I have it is bringing out the detail by carefully controlling the contrast in the image.
Now the contrast is right and a little cloning on the bottom left to remove some leaves I don’t like finishes the image up.
Now we have detail, good colour in the water (caused by tannin from the swamp full of oak trees that is draining into this little stream) and plenty of detail in the rocks. At this point a small adjustment curve is applied and the image is done. It really doesn’t take much to clean up a RAW image into one that looks good.
That’s how I do it most of the time.