I went back into the vault for this image. I shot this several years ago but I had never done anything with the image. The original file is a little overexposed and judging by the shadows it was probably shot in the middle of the day. I liked the camera angle but the colors were very washed out. I wanted to try a psuedo HDR approach to see if I could give it some depth.
Yesterday I started by using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 on it to see what I could create. I tried several different presets and finally settled on Deep 2 as the start point for finishing the photo. I then adjusted several sliders which really brought out the clouds as well as revealing the green reflections under the headlight. Some times when working on an image with the adjustment slider I will simply grab the slider and move it all the way to the right or left to see what happens. Most of the time it is way too much but I liken it to having an eye exam where the doctor places two sets of lenses in front of you and asks “better here or better here?” when trying to find the right combination for your vision. Once I know what the extreme effect is I can then decide whether to use that adjustment slider or not. If the effect is in keeping with my vision for the image I can then dial it down and fine tune it’s effect.
I was pleasantly surprised at the way the sky came to life after the initial adjustments in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 but there was still a problem area on the left side of the image. Just to the left of the headlight there was a red car that was drawing my eye away from the rest of the image. I returned it to Aperture 3 and then I took the image into NIK Vivesa 2 where I used a couple of control points placed on the red car to desaturate the red of the car. After that I took the image back into Aperture 3 and finished it with a little tweak to the vibrancy slider and some minor sharpening.