This is an image taken back in January, shot moments before this photo. I think this is a big improvement in terms of processing, and it's thanks in no small part to the Marc Adamus "glow" technique that's stirred up a lot of impassioned discussion in the landscape photography world (also thanks to Paul Marcellini , who shared his take on the technique). Some people are turned off by the technique because it falls outside of their post-processing comfort zone. These people tend toward the purist side of photography. The other reason people seem turned off by it is that it has become a signature aspect of Marc's work, and some feel that to use it is to be an unoriginal Adamus wannabe. Well, at the risk of sounding like a wannabe, I tend to agree with Marc's take on the matter: "There is no technique I can share that will allow anyone to take images like I do, and the like can be said for many other photographers out there, and all artists alike." The decision to use this technique is only one of many creative decisions that went into making this photo. I'd say the technique's overall importance to the look of a photo is roughly on par with the use of a polarizer -- which virtually all landscape photographers use.
Now, back to the photo. I had been unhappy with what I was able to come up with after a RAW conversion using Nikon's software, which is why I hadn't posted this until now. The photo always felt too flat (but it certainly didn't look flat when I was out there), and adjustments to levels, contrast, etc. just weren't producing the results I wanted. Having acquired Photoshop recently, I decided to have another go at it. Using luminosity masks produced acceptable results. But the "glow" technique not only provided the desired luminance, it also had the effect of softening the entire photo while maintaining sharpness. The result looks more natural to me. The foreground here has an insane amount of texture and detail, and without a little diffusion a sharpened version of this looks too harsh. I tried to keep the use of the technique to a minimum -- enough to make a real difference, but not enough to be a noticeable effect. I bet if I hadn't written this ridiculously long description nobody would have noticed.