I made several stops and starts while attempting to write up this description, which is perhaps appropriate given the shot bore fruition in a similar manner. I generally make a quick test edit or two just to give me an idea how an image is likely to respond to whatever 'feel' I have in mind (as I did with this one), and when doing so I collapse layers prematurely and don't pay too much heed to the subtler nuances that help refine any actual finished file.
Normally this approach works well for me. I've dismissed many images pretty much from the outset when viewing the RAW back home, only to find if I tweak this, nurture that and coax the other during a cursory test edit then suddeny I can get pretty close to what I envisaged in the first instant. Of course, it doesn't always work in my favour - there are plenty of RAW's jostling pixelated shoulders with one another on my hard drive which started life as imagined dead certainties. That is, at least until I started processing them and it all went horribly wrong... If we're honest I think few, if any of us can say our processed photographs turn out exactly how we imagined them at point of capture. This is certainly true for digital LE work where I feel a certain level of processing skill and dedication is absolutely necessary in order to realise the photographer's full vision - this is a niche where SOOC or anything approaching should be beaten into the corners with a big pointy stick! Some of you will agree and some of you will disagree, but whatever you believe a camera is just a soulless box. The person adjusting it's dials and pressing it's buttons ignores real opportunities if they turn their back on the digital darkroom - it's an artform to remain true to the original essence of an image while imprinting something of yourself on it and this simply can't be achieved any other way.
However, this shot took an unusual turn of events in that when doing the test edit (in a room that was far too bright whilst my daughter was leaning on me and my wife was chatting on the phone), I found when I viewed it later it looked pretty damn good... Of course, when I then tried to replicate what I'd done as part of my proper editing process, the file stubbornly refused to cooperate and decided to take a alternate course all together. So it is then that I have around five versions of this image (all of which might look lovely framed together if I could produce a sixth!) that all present differently.
Technically, this is certainly not the strongest of them. But it's the one that most closely resembles what I had in mind when I pointed that soulless box at this scene and it's the one I'm going with. My camera didn't make this and nor did my computer.