I was going through some old photos today in Lightroom, from waaay back when I had like, ONE memory card and had to shoot jpeg most of the time (gasp), and came across several images from the first Excellent Adventure camping trip that well, didn't seem to have the ooomph I was expecting, or remembered. For example, the image below was one of my most favorite shots of that first trip. Tom and I were in the canoe, and Tom's son, Rob, was paddling circles around us in his kayak. It was a beautiful night and the sunset was, well, stunning to me. I got the shot below using my old Fuji Finepix S9000. It was a relatively quick grab, other than trying to balance the exposure somewhat. And - when I looked at the image back then, I was really happy. EVERYBODY loved the photo.
But just today, I came acrose the image again and I realized it wasn't nearly what I wanted or remembered it to be. As I said, I had only shot this in JPG, so I wasn't sure how far I could take the image. I was worried about blowing out the highlights more (or worse, producing the dreaded grey highlights) and I wasn't sure how much shadow detail I had to work with.
But I figured, what the hell, I'd give it the old college try. I'm glad I did.
Turns out, either the camera did a great job of retaining highlights, or I did a good job of exposure, because I was able to rescue some of the highlights in the sunset. Not so lucky with the shadow detail (really grainy) but I did pull a bit more out of Rob and the kayak. Punched up the Vibrance and Clarity, applied some noise reduction (ISO 400 on a 7 year old digicam using a half sensor - Yikes) and the end result is, in my view vastly improved.
I must also add, my Lightroom chops have significantly improved since I took that original photo, so that skill, along with an awesome application, plus some decent exposure control and yes even a JPG can be improved.
In hindsight, I think I need to tone down the blue. But that's the joy of working in a tool like Lightroom; I can always change my mind...
For those interested, I've captured the edit history for the image, below.