3913 – Golden As It Gets

Looks like an infrared image? It certainly does to me, at least in terms of tonality.

Basically that’s what happens when you pull back the highlights (-100 in Lightroom), raise the shadows (+70), pull up the whites until you get blown highlights (frequently around +60), compensate for too much brightness by dropping exposure (often by up to 1EV), adjusting the blacks for a full histogram, and finally fiddling with all that plus vibrancy, saturation, clarity and contrast, until things look right.

This has been my usual routine for more than a year. I do it with all my images. It’s contrary to the orthodox view, but it produces nicely saturated, richly contrasted images.

What I technically do is, I stretch the highlights. It’s kind of a tone mapping. In the end, although these adjustments look violent, I often find myself at a result that’s not very far from what the camera did. It’s just more controlled, more saturated, but in quite a pleasant way. Sometimes you almost don’t see it at all, sometimes, like in this case with that much yellow, you positively do. It can look unnatural (like all sorts of tone mapping), but I think, even if it slightly does so here, it does not look wrong at all. Ymmv.