Just a few quick observations today. One reason I stay in a RAW as long as possible is that quality and dynamic tonal control is at it’s highest on an original RAW file. Once we leave that environment, we can certainly still work with tonal values, but we throw away some of that precious information.
On the right is a sharpened and desaturated original file from Sunset’s Hidden Falls. On the left, the same file with nothing more than applying Dynamic Silver III from my new Silver Shadows 2 toolkit. This effect pulls out dynamic range without flattening the shadow and contrast too much. It could also be done manually of course.
Once I have the dynamic range under control, then I’ll move on to external edits as needed. I don’t hesitate to go into Photoshop (though I try to stay in 16bit mode) for detail work. I did plenty of that on the final version of this). But getting my basic tonal range managed before I leave the RAW file behind gives me better results and helps me maintain that quality as high as possible for my wall prints. It’s a better wokflow and a better image.