I shot the following, looking northwest from atop Mount Barnabe in Samuel P.Taylor State Park, at about 5 p.m., with the sun having begun its descent in the west:
I’m looking for suggestions on getting the best results with this. I have a RAW version to work with, and I did make an initial attempt, centering around the haze reduction tool. It resulted in some false colors, but it doesn’t look bad:
When you display it at close to 100% size and look closely, though, the flaws are glaring:
Is there any more I can do to the photo to enhance it for zoom-in viewing, or are my options limited because of the angle of the sun? (I did try some blur filters, but they just made the whole photo look, well, blurry.)
I opened this in camera raw, but could not improve it very much
Then opened in regular PSE, duplicated the background layer, set the blending mode of this layer to overlay,
Next went to Filter menu>other>high pass and applied this. Worked the slider to best advantage.
Replaced the sky with light blue - - - C7D7EA in the color picker.
You can add a few clouds if you think that it is appropriate.
Setting the White Balance and basic camera raw adjustments
I used open in camera raw. So this will look best with your original raw file. I used the detail panel to remove the luminance noise seen at 100% and masking to avoid the entire image becoming soft. I then adjusted highlights and the white & black points. You can use the sliders to your own taste. Here are the settings:
Noise reduction 60
Leave radius, color noise etc. at the default settings.
If you hold down the Alt key while moving the masking slider you will get a B&W preview which will help you see the amount of noise/artefacts being masked as you move the slider.
You could also experiment with the temperature slider by pushing slightly to the left. Image #2
Thank you for that. Based on an earlier suggestion, I did some additional adjustments in Camera Raw last night, most notably with the Details panel (I had completely forgotten about the Details adjustments option), and it did improve my results somewhat. I will incorporate your suggestions and see if I get similar results to yours.
I have a couple of questions. I tried applying your settings to the RAW file, but my results looked nothing like yours, so I’m guessing that you applied those to settings to the image that I had already processed in PSE, not the JPG that accompanied the original RAW (which was the first photo in my post). Based on that assumption, I opened my edited file in Camera Raw and started applying your settings. I wasn’t sure about the Noise Reduction setting. I assumed that you meant the Luminance setting under Noise Reduction, but there is also a Luminance Detail, which was defaulting to 76, and I didn’t know what effect that had; I left it as is. Your settings did improve the photo's appearance when zooming in.
One other thing: I don't understand what Masking does in the context of sharpening. I see the blurring effect, which was a key factor in improving the image on zoom-in, but why is that called masking? What is it doing? How does that relate to masking as used in layer masks?
Sorry I should have said you will probably need to apply some sharpening to overcome the softening effect of noise reduction. If you hold down the Alt key while masking you will see the B&W preview. Only edges shown in white will be sharpened. Nothing in black will get sharpened. On a raw file you can push edge sharpening quite high when using masking without affecting artefacts.
It’s the same principle when using a layer mask e.g. black conceals and white reveals. A nice way to remember is painting on a layer mask with black, blocks the effect. So Black blocks.