Stop me if you’ve heard this: Photoshop isn’t going to make a bad photo better. It can make a good one sing, though, and there are quite a few techniques I have yet to master. So from time to time I go back to an old image and use it as a practice tool. And every occasionally something really works.
The current bee in my bonnet is layer masks. Maybe there is more than one “right” way to do something in Photoshop, but masking is a technique I should know more about. So I went back to this photo I took a couple years ago. It’s a strong image to start with. (Here’s the original.)
I wanted to experiment with selective color. I created a black and white adjustment layer and started masking out the blue of the sky. That was interesting but it was getting late and frankly I didn’t feel like doing the precise work it would take to get the line between the sand and the sky. Then I remembered the other thing I want practice on is gradients. So I experimented with angles until I found a gradient that I like. It’s a subtle difference, but I think a significant improvement. It looks even better printed (on Moab’s Kayenta matte paper).