Through The Swamp - Post Processing Workflow

I've been getting quite a few emails with questions about my post processing so I decided to start a new series on my blog in which I explain in detail how I edit my photographs that I publish regularly on Google+ and 500px .

My goal is to provide as much information as possible to make you use my workflow for your own pictures.

If I'm using plugins for a particular image like Nik's Silver Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro and Analog Efex Pro, I will include the settings I used in those plugins as downloadable presets that you can import back into the application if you're using those  plugins.

The photograph I want to start with is one of my favourites so far for this year. I named it "Through The Swamp" and shot it on March 1, 2013 at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, FL.

 

Through The Swamp - Final Version

The RAW file that I shot that day is rather unspectacular and I tried to post process it a few days later but couldn't produce a final image that pleased me. I therefore let it sit on my disk for a few months until Google released its Analog Efex Pro (AEP) plugin last week. 

While I did most of the post-processing in Lightroom, AEP provided me with the needed inspiration with its powerful vignetting tool to produce the final image, although I ended up adding the vignette in LR.

I always start in Lightroom to do some basic RAW processing, then bring it either into a plugin or Photoshop and finally complete the final photograph back in Lightroom.

This is what I captured in-camera without any editing done:

RAW File

Step 1: RAW processing in Lightroom 

I did very little for this image. In fact, I only adjusted the Color temperature, added a bit of vibrance and did a square crop.

RAW processing in Adobe Lightroom 5

Step 2: Nik's Analog Efex Pro

Instead of telling you about all sliders I moved into which direction, you can simply download the Through The Swamp Preset I created for that particular picture and use it for your own pictures with Analog Efex Pro to see exactly what I did.

I'm a big fan of the "Light Streaks" feature but I will get into more detail in a later photograph as it is not as obvious in this picture.

Analog Efex Pro 

Step 3: Back in Lightroom for drama

Once I got the image back from AEP, I did some heavy retouching in Lightroom, especially with darkening the edges and boosting clarify and saturation because I wanted those greens to pop.

In the screenshot below you can see how I created the vignette. I didn't really on Lightroom's vignette feature but used the brush tool to darken the edges exactly where I wanted them dark.  

 

Lightroom 5 - Final Touches

Summary:

I would really appreciate your feedback in the comments section below and I will use for future posting in this category.