Editing to optimize the ingredients:
First: I try to do my edits soon after I have taken the photograph. Ansel Adams said: “A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.” It would be hard to remember how you felt if you took 500 exposures in a week and waited 6 months to edit them.
Starting with the Raw image: if the overall exposure is problematic, I adjust that in ‘Brightness.’
Still in Camera Raw, I check the highlights and use the recovery slider to bring back some detail if there is over-exposure. Then I look at the dark areas and, if necessary, I try to get some detail in them
Next, I open the RAW image as a Tiff file, Adobe 1998 and 8 bit. First, I dust any sensor-dirt spots. If necessary, I straighten the horizon.
Then I fine tune the following: saturation, contrast, lighting on parts of the image which need brightening. I check balance of luminosity (tonal balance) left to right and top to bottom.
I remove obvious distractions which significantly affect Simplicity, the key Visual Order Ingredient.
Then I ask myself: does the image look like what I remember seeing and feeling? Then I ask myself about the ‘Ingredients’ in the image. In the image of this post, Tonal Balance from left to right is crucially important. The early morning light is also important.
Based on those two questions I may make final adjustments. (This included some minor cropping.) If I’m happy, I save it in an external hard drive folder “Family Island -final edits”. I also save the Raw file.
Once I decide to use the image for a show, for competition or for a website, I duplicate the original edit and work on the duplicate. Close the original edit.
Further steps are done to optimize for that type of use. The image is sized, compressed, (JPG) resolution adjusted, colour space probably changed to sRGB, and sharpened. Sharpening is always last.
Ingredients: Simplicity, Tonal Balance, The Unusual, Interesting Lighting and Colour harmony.