For this photo fail I'm pretty new at doing high contrast black and white edits and using heavy gradients. I hate how the front treeline turned out and had to clean it up before I could send it off to print.
The challenging aspect of high contrast black and white edits is adding gradients to either highlight or darken very selective regions of a photo. Our goal is to direct viewer attention to important areas of the image and to add some dimensionality to indicate depth in an otherwise flat photo. My philosophy has always been to do as much as I can in camera so I don't have to do much post processing in photoshop or whatever your post-processing software of choice may be. I do have a new set of ND filters to help me do extreme long exposures, but there's still no getting away from the fact that I have to learn my photo editing tools and use them correctly.
Getting to the original image really wasn't that hard. I show a few; but not all, of those steps in the video to just darken the sky at the top and the trees in the foreground. This image below is the original edit that still has the offending problems with the treeline and the ridgeline against the sky.
My point here is that you really can't tell much when you view the image small on a phone or a computer screen. The image below is the version that's ready for print after I cleaned up the treeline in the foreground, fixed some banding in the sky, and cleaned up some highlights between the mountains and the sky. You can't tell on the small photo? Yeah, I know; that's why I published the sloppy edit in the first place. Believe me, you can see the issues when this is printed six feet wide and you can stand just inches from the printed image and examine it up close. While that may not be important to most photographers; it is a big part of my business, so if I don't pay attention to those details it could cost me dearly.
This problem is exacerbated any time you have to mask trees against the backdrop of water or sky. You'll also face this challenge any time you're applying a heavy edit of any kind in order to make the final result look "natural". Yeah, an artistic edit is never actually natural so maybe we should just call it skillful instead? I'd rather spend my time in the field capturing photos than sitting at a desk editing them, but some mastery of the editing tools
is necessary to achieve dramatic edits.