I'm a firm believer that post-processing starts with a well captured image. The less I spend on cleaning up an image, the more time I get to spend playing and experimenting with the image aesthetics.
I'll publish a processing workflow article in the future, but this is simply a follow-up from the previous image set published showing the raw versus fully processed images.
Image Processing Levels
I categorize image processing in to three different levels:
Straight out of camera. Maybe cropped and/or rotation applied, but no other changes
Any changes I can make in a raw processor. This can include tweaks to exposure, contrast, shadows, white balance, color balance or color grading, and possibly apply a filter. The real qualifer for me is batch processing. I may spend a couple minutes tweaking one image, but will copy the changes and apply them to all the other images captured in that same shoot set saving me tons of time. I use Capture One, but fire up Lightroom once in a blue.
This almost always includes bringing the image into Photoshop after basic processing to do the creative things only possible in Photoshop. The changesare unique to each and every image, and can be time consuming. Skin clean-up, dodge & burn, frequency separation, liquify, composites, image modification, etc.
Before & After
The left image is raw, only cropped/rotated. The right is fully processed.
It is very common for me me to get lost down the color rabbit hole when processing, and wind up with multiple colorized versions of an image. Color science is fascinating and frustrating to me. This is just a sample of the different looks I experimented with this image.
I don't profess to be any sort of expert in image post-processing. I simply enjoy learning and experimenting with various techniques, and playing. I tried so many of the AI processing tools available, but don't see them replacing post-processing anytime soon. They're great to help with some steps to speed things up, but can't automate creating art just yet. Maybe one day.