here it is, the before/after for my previous photo
main photo is 100% crop when viewed large.
so theres a few things i need to say about this photo before i get into the settings.
the sun was shining into the lens somewhat making pretty much all of
the natural color and contrast go away completely. this is why i shoot
if i did not shoot these kinds of lighting conditions, where i know there will be lens flare, strong backlighting, and a lot of clipped highlights i will not bother shooting raw because there is just no point.
i always use 6250k for in camera white balance, i know it can be edited fully with the raw, but it always gives me a good starting point.
i only use lightroom 3. i do not have photoshop cs5 or anything else. so i am sorry that only lightroom users will understand this! apple aperture might be similar, but i have never used it.
so i'll go through the settings in lightroom in order and briefly explain why.
wb temp: 4800
exposure +1.40, i always try to expose for the subject so the deer is properly exposed. in these lighting conditions my guess is that the cameras meter said 2 or 3 stops overexposed when i shot it. these lighting conditions require the use of manual control so i know the exposure will come out how i intend. even though i added +1.40 stops to this photo it would have been far riskier exposing in camera another stop for fear of losing too much detail. this is why raw is so good in these kind of lighting conditions.
recovery: 0 i hate this setting, i never use it. it ruins my photos!
fill light: 0 i very rarely use this.
blacks: 35, i love this setting. for this photo the blacks makes a huge difference.
contrast +100, because of the extreme sunflare reducing most of the natural contrast i chose +100 for this
clarity +18, i rarely use this, but it makes the deer stand out just a
little more, not a very noticable amount but it's there.
vibrance: -22, i rarely use this too. this is one of the last things i changed in the editing process.
saturation: 0, i never change this.
tone curve, point curve: set to strong contrast.
hsl / color / b&w tab: everything left default.
split toning tab,
split toning is where the magic happens, i can fine tune the color tones so they look how i like them to. difficult to describe why i choose these settings, i just love the effect of split toning. experimentation is key for split toning. it is very powerful.
detail tab, everything left default.
turned on, and everything left as default. the vignetting correction is usually quite overagressive and brightens the corners way too much for my liking but for this photo i loved the effect. but i usually turn off vignetting correction off completely because i love natural lens vignetting.
style: color priority, this is the vignette i usually apply to most of my photos.
camera calibration tab
everything left default except for one extremely important thing. the profile. this only works with raw files. i believe it is how lightroom sees the raw before any editing. you need to download the official profiles for your camera from nikons website, i assume canon has the same thing. this is the starting point of my processing. i always choose the D3's profile camera vivid. nikon, if you are reading this, please never change the profile camera vivid! i love it.
hope i didn't bore you all too much! hope you can learn something from
i'll try to answer any questions anyone has.