Tag Archives: color

Why is Street Photography Dominated by Black and White?

When I think about street photography, I see black and white. Perhaps I’ve been conditioned to think this way, or maybe there’s some other driving force here. Regardless, I hadn’t really thought about it or questioned it until Rachel Fus struck up a conversation on Twitter (@fusphoto) about the recent street photography post:

fusphoto: 15 photos from @EpicEdits’ Flickr Challenge http://tinyurl.com/2afs7uc Y r only 3 of these color? #photo

epicedits: @fusphoto Most are b/w because most of the submissions were b/w. Not surprising given the topic.

fusphoto: @epicedits street photography? how so?

epicedits: @fusphoto You don’t think street photography is typically dominated by b/w? Less so w/digital, but I still see more b/w street pics.

fusphoto: @epicedits this is true but y? the “streets” are infused with color yet people don’t use it. the merry-go-round for instance. WTF?

epicedits: @fusphoto Never really thought about the why of it… I have my ideas, but maybe I’ll post a blog discussion this week to hear from others.

[tweetmeme]And so here we are. Rachel brings up a good point and it really got me thinking. The streets are full of color, yet most street photos are either captured or published in black and white. WTF indeed!

Now, nobody’s saying that street photos can’t be in color, or even that the best ones are only in black and white. There are tons of examples out there that break the “rules” in this arena. But I have two thoughts on why street photography is closely coupled with black and white images.

1. THE MASTERS HAVE BRAINWASHED US

brainwash NOW!
Creative Commons License photo credit: ranjit

Elliott Erwitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Gilden, Robert Frank, and countless others have taught us that street photography is black and white. William Eggleston would be a strong exception to the rule, but a lot of the “old masters” shot in black and white. Why? Probably out of convenience more than anything, though I’m sure a few of them have always loved the black and white end of things.

At any rate, a lot of the recognizable masterpieces in street photography are black and white images. If you see enough of that, your brain starts to make the connection… street photography = black and white. So I’m going to argue that we’ve been brainwashed by the masters.

2. COLOR IS A DISTRACTION

For my second reason why street photography works better in black and white, I’m going to get all “deep” and stuff.

what you are worrying about right now is a distraction from what's really important in your life
Creative Commons License photo credit: Torley

Color is an element of every photo. Just like framing, composition, subject matter, lighting, exposure, etc. But color is one of those elements that can essentially be turned off. Street scenes can be very busy with lots of distracting elements as is, and color will often add a level of complexity that leads to sensory overload in an image. Background elements can be a major distraction: the bright green car, the guy in the red shirt, the neon sign, and so on. My thought is that if the color isn’t adding something important to the image, it doesn’t need to be there (and it might even hurt having it there).

I’m not going to get much “deeper” than that… you get the point. But don’t be too quick to attack — these are just my own opinions and observations on the matter.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

Do you agree that street photography is dominated by black and white? Why or why not? Is this changing as we go further into the digital age of photography? I’d love to hear some thoughts on the topic.

Link Roundup 04-15-2010

Link Roundup 10-24-2009

13 Alternative Flower Photography Tips

Flowers are so cliche when it comes to photography… but that doesn’t stop most of us from shooting them! Heck, some photographers even specialize in flower photography and they do a darn good job of it. If you’re getting bored with your current bag-o-tricks for photographing flowers, scan through these tips and get inspired to try something different.

1. DITCH THE COLOR

Flower photos are generally full of vibrant colors, but that’s not the only way to do it. Black and white flower photos can bring much needed attention to details and textures that would otherwise be masked by the blinding colors.

let's craft the only thing we know into surprise
Creative Commons License photo credit: linh.ngân

2. USE AS A FOREGROUND

The flowers don’t always need to be the center of attention. Use them as a foreground or background to lay down some color for your main subject. Bonus points for using complimentary colors in your composition.

Blessed
Creative Commons License photo credit: creativesam

3. LOOK INDOORS

Flowers are inside too! Not every flower photo needs to be 100% “natural” — try your hand at some still life.

3 sisters
Creative Commons License photo credit: mamako7070

4. DOUBLE EXPOSE

Flowers can make for pretty cool double exposures. Experiment with combinations of up-close and far-off shots of the same flowers.

Diana+
Creative Commons License photo credit: Maco@Sky Walker

5. GO ABSTRACT

Flowers have great curves — so use that to your advantage. A good macro setup will allow you to capture abstract images of the colors, curves, and textures.

monstera deliciosa flower
Creative Commons License photo credit: nothing

6. REFLECT WITH WATER

Reflection can be a powerful composition technique, and flower photography is no exception.

Balboa Pond Lily part deux.
Creative Commons License photo credit: peasap

7. FOCUS ON SYMMETRY

Reflections are a type of symmetry, but flowers often exhibit another type of symmetry: radial. Use the radial symmetry of most flowers to create a strong composition.

Gazania
Creative Commons License photo credit: josef.stuefer

8. PAINT YOUR OWN FLOWER

Light painting is another interesting style of photography, so why not mix it up with flower photography?

Night Flower
Creative Commons License photo credit: Brian Auer

9. CATCH A BUG

That’s right, catch a bug in your frame. Those little insects can often add a lot to your image by catching the eye of the viewer. Anything unexpected will generate interest.

ladybug on gerbera
Creative Commons License photo credit: Vanessa Pike-Russell

10. BE A SMURF

Sometimes you have to get a little dirty to get the shot. Macro photographers will often wear grungy clothes for nature outings (or bring a blanket/tarp) because they know they’ll be laying on the ground at some point. Get down there and see how the world looks from the perspective of your feet.

Under the Tulips
Creative Commons License photo credit: ♥siebe ©

11. FIND URBAN FLOWERS

Flowers grow in cities too! Next time you’re in an urban environment, keep your eyes peeled for flowers growing naturally or even landscaped flowers.

urban life
Creative Commons License photo credit: Pedro Moura Pinheiro

12. DO THE DEWDROP TRICK

Most of us have seen these types of photos with the flower inside the dewdrop. Still, it’s a pretty cool trick and you can do it with more than just flowers.

Day 45/365 : All the world in a little droplet
Creative Commons License photo credit: ~jjjohn~

13. USE AS A PROP

If you’re doing people shots or portrait photography, try adding flowers as a secondary subject or background.

Boy taking a rest. (DGM)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Simon Pais-Thomas

Do you have any flower photography tips or examples? If so, leave them in the comments below!

Link Roundup 06-20-2009

WOW! It’s been a while since I posted one of these things! So here are a few interesting photography links for ya.

Oh… and I heard something about a new iPhone thingy with an updated camera or whatever. As soon as they make an iPhone that shoots medium format film, then I’ll be impressed.

My Favorite Film After a Year of Shooting

I started shooting film right around April of 2008, and here we are a year later! At first, I basically bought one of everything and just tried all the different films available to me. Over time, I started leaning toward certain brands and even specific films. Now, I’m fairly picky about what I shoot — though I’m always open to trying out new films (or at least new to me).

Also in the last year, more and more people are getting into film and asking me which film to use. Of course, that kind of thing is dependent on what you’re shooting, which camera you’re using, what the light is like, what kind of mood you’re going for, and personal preference. But if you’re completely new to film photography, it’s nice to have some advice to start with. So here are 11 of my favorite films after a year of shooting.

BLACK AND WHITE FILM

A Dreary WorldIt's Lonely Out HereSpin Me!CruisersMetal and GlassTicket Booth

Black and white is definitely my favorite when it comes to film. Each film captures the scene a bit differently at varying levels of contrast, dynamic range, and tone representation. Here are five of my favorites.

  1. ILFORD PANF PLUS
    This one is my favorite film of all. It’s a medium contrast low speed (ASA 50) film that goes nicely with old cameras. I love using this film in my TLR on a sunny day because it allows me to open up the lens for a shallow DOF.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  2. ILFORD HP5 PLUS
    This is my go-to film for any time the sun isn’t shining. Also a fairly medium contrast film, but with a faster speed (ASA 400). Awesome dynamic range with great looking grain. A very versatile film, capable of being pushed to ASA 3200 and pulled to ASA 100 with decent results.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  3. ILFORD DELTA 3200
    I like this one for indoor shooting because of its fast speed (ASA 3200), though it does have some very pronounced grain. The contrast on this film tends to be higher than the PanF or HP5.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  4. FUJIFILM NEOPAN 400
    I’m not a huge fan on non-Ilford films (in case you haven’t noticed), but nothing beats the serious high contrast on the Neopan (ASA 400).
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  5. ILFORD XP2 SUPER
    This film is a bit different than the others since its not really a black and white film. The XP2 (ASA 400) is actually a C-41 film, so it needs to be processed as if it were color film. This is handy for folks who want to shoot black and white but don’t have access to anything but standard color developing.
    See my sample photos on Flickr

COLOR FILM

Over the CanLow Tide SunsetWinter DocksTake a KneeSan Clemente PierLa Jolla Pier

Though black and white is my favorite, color is quickly growing on me. Color film usually renders a scene in a very different fashion than a typical digital image. Like black and white films, the various color films have differing levels of saturation, contrast, and grain. Here are 3 of my favorites.

  1. KODAK PORTRA 400VC
    The Portra VC (Vivid Color) films are very strong in color saturation and well suited for toy cameras and such — though I assume they’ll work just as well in a “real” camera. I have yet to try the Portra 160VC, but I’ve got some waiting to be loaded up in my TLR.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  2. FUJIFILM REALA 100
    This one is fairly slow (ASA 100) as far as color negative films go, and the results are nice and sharp with little sign of grain. Color accuracy seems to be very good, and the saturation and contrast look great without being overdone.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  3. KODAK EKTAR 100
    This may become my favorite color film due to the extremely fine grain and color accuracy. Also a low-speed color film (ASA 100), this stuff loves the sunshine. You can also read my informal review of the 120-Format Ektar 100.
    See my sample photos on Flickr

SLIDE FILM (XPRO’D)

Flying and FloatingJessWarp SpeedI'm So Hot I'm RedDarkness Creeps InI'm a Survivor

I don’t usually shoot slide film because it’s expensive to buy and develop, and it tends to be very finicky about exposure. But the stuff is great for cross processing! Here are 3 of my favorites.

  1. KODAK EKTACHROME OR ELITECHROME
    This film gives that classic green-shift when cross processed, but a lot of it can be white-balanced out to give the photos a more neutral tone.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  2. FUJIFILM VELVIA 100
    The Velvia 100 gives very different results from most other xpro’d slide film. It has a very strong red-cast with hints of purple or yellow depending on the lighting.
    See my sample photos on Flickr
  3. FUJIFILM VELVIA 50
    The Velvia 50 is quite similar to the Ektachrome, but with a more subtle green and more prominent blue-cast. I haven’t shot too much of this, but I really should do more.
    See my sample photos on Flickr

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE?

Drop us a comment and tell us what your favorite films are, and let us know why! Feel free to leave photos in the comments to back up your comments.

Film Review: 120-Format Kodak Ektar 100

Kodak Professional Ektar 100

I managed to get my hands on some 120-format Kodak Ektar 100 before it was available to the general public, and I was given the opportunity to conduct an informal review of the film. Based on the hype surrounding this film, I was quite happy to test it out. After shooting 5 rolls through a few different cameras, I was not at all disappointed with the results as I scanned them in.

I found the colors to be extremely natural and pleasing under daylight conditions. And the sharpness and grain are absolutely to die for. In general, the film has the best characteristics from both slide film and color negative film. Read on for my informal review.

ABOUT THE FILM

The Umbrella Perched on a Sink

Kodak Professional Ektar 100 is a color-negative film (using the C-41 process) available in 35mm and 120-formats. It is claimed to have extremely fine grain (the world’s finest for color-neg) and high color saturation, making it ideal for nature, landscape, and travel photographers.

In September, 2008 the Ektar 100 became available in 35mm format. Due to popular demand, Kodak has made the film available in 120-format in April, 2009 (I believe it’s available for purchase through a few vendors right now).

MY NON-TECHNICAL REVIEW

La Jolla Coastline San Clemente Pier

Equipped with a pro-pack of the Ektar 100, I loaded up my two medium format cameras and headed out on a few photowalks along the coast. One camera was my old 1956 Minolta Autocord MXS (twin lens reflex) and the other was my Diana+ (toy camera). I must admit, putting this film into a plastic toy camera felt a bit like ripping the engine from an F-1 car and strapping it to a tricycle.

The first day I shot this film, the weather turned heavy overcast quite rapidly, but I managed to finish off three rolls. I went out a few days later and shot the last two rolls in full sunshine. The film can certainly be used in either condition, but its white balance is intended for daylight use. The overcast photos just scanned in a bit cold — and I could have adjusted it, but it seemed fitting to leave them as is.

The Family in La Jolla Splish-Splash

Up to this point, I’ve been shooting mostly Kodak Portra VC color-neg films on medium format (and a little bit of Velvia slide). The Ektar 100 seems quite comparable to the color saturation of these films, but the colors on the Ektar 100 seem more “realistic” to me. The color saturation and contrast isn’t so overbearing that it looks unnatural, and the colors seems to closely represent the actual colors of the scene. One thing I did notice, though, is that the greens tend to be more saturated than the other colors — sometimes a bit too much.

The shots (especially those from the TLR) appear to be very sharp and free from grain. I might even go so far as to say that the Ektar 100 is comparable to Ilford’s PanF Plus black and white film (which is the primary film I use with my Autocord). Though I’ve only scanned the film (which tends to present softer grain versus an optical enlarger), I was hard-pressed to find any signs of grain even at 100% zoom on a 3200 ppi scan.

GRAIN? WHAT GRAIN?

If you don’t believe me, see for yourself. Here’s an image with a decent exposure — the little box is the spot I’ve taken the 100% crop for the image immediately below it. The full image is approximately 50MP, or 7000 x 7000 pixels.

Kayakers

Kayakers at 100% Crop

The softness of the 100% crop probably comes from scanning the film since I don’t use any sharpening while scanning. Even so, I can usually make out the grain easily on most films — it’s just not as sharp as with an optical enlargement. The Ektar 100 scans don’t show much sign of grain.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

I Stand Alone La Jolla Pier

I like it — a lot. When I decide to shoot color on my TLR, I’ll probably use the Ektar 100 exclusively. The colors look great and the shots appear to be very sharp and fine-grained. I’m still undecided with the Diana+… I might try a few more rolls and see how it goes, but I’m still leaning toward the Portra VC films just because I have a history of good results with it.

The Ektar 100 film seems to have similar features of slide film (high saturation and fine grain), but with a more forgiving dynamic range of a color negative.

But the thing that gets me most about this film is how natural the colors appear. Color film often has a “film-like” appearance to it because of shifted colors or grain. The Ektar 100 (to me) looks more like a well-processed digital than it does a typical film.

Would I recommend this film for color enthusiasts? Certainly! It seems well-suited for landscape and nature photography, but even skin tones in portraits aren’t completely unnatural.

SWEEPSTAKES OFFER

As a promo for the new Ektar 100 films, Kodak is running a bit of a sweepstakes giveaway along with a rebate offer on the film. You can get a $5 mail-in rebate for certain film purchases, and that rebate automatically enters you into a drawing for a prize package. The prize is a nature photography experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdon Park, including a 4-night stay and a full itinerary of activities. You can also enter the prize drawing without buying the film or mailing in the rebate. Visit the official sweepstakes web page for more information.

The Watchman


Brian Auer | 09/20/2008 | San Diego, CA | 20mm * f/5.6 * 1/160s * ISO200
[Purchase a Print] [See it at Flickr]

This photo was taken at a location very close to my home, and I’ve shot there many times. It’s a gliderport near Torrey Pines State Park, sitting atop a 300-foot sand cliff overlooking Black’s Beach. Just to the side of the gliderport, there’s an area where you can walk right up to the point of steep decsent. This scary little lifeguard station sits perched right near the edge.

I shot using my wide angle lens to capture the vast openness of the scenery. The lifeguard was unaware that I was taking a photo of him, so his pose is quite natural. The lighting really sucked because it was heavy overcast and the sun was setting, but it worked out just fine.

The Watchman Post-Processing

All of the post-processing on this photo was done with Adobe Camera Raw 5. The intent wasn’t to use extreme processing or fancy tricks to get an interesting outcome — it was only to make small adjustments where necessary to convey a true lifelike scene.

  1. UNPROCESSED RAW
    Being very overcast and slightly dim, the original image doesn’t show much of the detail and color that was present in the scene.
  2. BASIC
    Temperature = 6050; Tint = +3; Exposure = 0; Fill Light = 10; Blacks = 8; Brightness = +24; Contrast = +50; Clarity = 0; Vibrance = +30; Saturation = +10;
    So I basically filled in some of the shadows, deepened the blacks, brightened up the whole image, added some contrast, and boosted the overall colors.
  3. TONE CURVE
    Highlights = 0; Lights = +25; Darks = -10; Shadows = 0;
    Here, I’ve just added some contrast to the mid-tones while maintaining my extremes.
  4. DETAIL
    Amount = 50; Radius = 1.5; Detail = 25; Masking = 0; Luminance = 35; Color = 25;
    These are pretty typical sharpening values that I use with my Sony a700, but I’ve bumped up the Luminance Noise Reduction a bit more than usual because I was seeing some junk up in the clouds and the water (blues suck for noise).
  5. HSL
    Aquas (Hue) = -30; Aquas (Saturation) = +15; Blues (Saturation) = +30; Aquas (Luminance) = +16; Blues (Luminance) = -5;
    This is where a lot of the magic happens with this photo. I love utilizing these controls in colorful scenes to pinpoint the look for each specific color. By lowering the Hue of the Aqua, it turned more green. Bumping up the saturation on Aqua and Blue made them stand out more. Boosting the luminance of the Aqua made it separate better from the rest of the water, as did lowering the luminance of the blues — and it gave the sky a better tone. I would have dropped the blues even further, but the noise really started to kick up.

So that’s it really — no Photoshop or local adjustments. Just a few small changes with the raw processor.

Cross Processing Tips and Suggestions

XPRO

It’s no secret… I love film photography. But if there’s one thing I love more than film, it’s cross processed film. There’s something so intriguing about it — adding a touch of unpredictable to the imperfect nature of film. Many photographers tend to either hate it or love it. Some love it so much that they attempt to recreate the look with Photoshop.

I’ve had this article on the half-finished backburner for a while. I figure we’ll take a slight detour from the photo backup series and get this one out there. One reader recently commented on another cross processing article, asking some questions about it. So I’m guessing that at least one person will find some of this useful.

Here are some tips for choosing films to cross process, exposing the film, getting it developed, and color correcting it. So grab a cheap film camera start cross processing!

WHAT THE HECK IS CROSS PROCESSING?

It’s a beautiful thing… simply put, you shoot a roll of film (most commonly slide film, or E-6) and develop it as if it were something different (most commonly color negative film, or C-41). Intentionally processing a film in the wrong chemicals. Doing this with slide film works out well for several reasons: the results are very cool and C-41 processing is much more available than E-6.

DIFFERENT FILMS = DIFFERENT RESULTS

Darkness Creeps InWe Have LiftoffThe Wind CatcheruntitledjesusLanterns

The largest differences in the outcome of your cross processed photos have to do with the film you’re using. Each film has it’s own unique look, and they can vary drastically. The most obvious difference is the color cast produced during development. Here are some results from those that I’m most familiar with:

Kodak EktaChrome (or EliteChrome) = very green
Fujifilm Velvia 50 = green + some blue
Fujifilm Velvia 100 = very red + some magenta or yellow

And here are some others that I have yet to try:

Fujifilm Sensia 400 = blue + green
Fujifilm Sensia 100 = red
Fujifilm Provia 400 = green + yellow
Konica Centuria 100 = little color cast

It’s also worth noting that different developer solutions will have slightly different effects on the outcome of the film. For any given slide film that can be cross processed, I’ve seen a vast array of colors show up from different photographers.

UNDER-EXPOSE BY ONE STOP

Color slide film has a lower dynamic range than color negative film. On top of that, cross processing tends to boost the contrast between highlights and shadows, thus requiring that you properly expose your shots. But cross processing (in my experience so far), tends to over-expose the film by about one stop. The first few rolls I got back were overexposed — some being unusable. So I figured out that if I underexpose the shots by one stop, I got better results with the exposure of the developed film.

To underexpose by one stop, you just have to set your ASA/ISO value to double what it should be (assuming that you have a light meter on your camera). So if you’re shooting with ASA100 film, set the camera to ASA200. This makes the camera “think” that you have a faster film loaded, so it lets in less light.

FIND A GOOD PHOTO LAB

Cross processing requires the C-41 process, and most of us aren’t equipped to do this ourselves. However, just about any lab that develops film will have this capability (since it’s the most common process for consumer film). The tricky part is finding somebody who will cross process your E-6 film as C-41 film.

When film is developed, a lot of chemical reactions are taking place. The end result is a stable piece of film with an image on it and a bunch of extra “stuff” that gets left in the developer solution. Developer solutions have to be changed out on a regular basis to continue to work properly.

From what I understand, developing slide film in C-41 chemicals can leave behind stuff that normally isn’t left behind. I don’t think this does a great harm to the solution or to the other film being processed in the developer, but shops with less-experienced technicians will shy away from cross processing because of this. You’re better off finding somebody who knows their stuff.

It’s also recommended that you find a shop with a higher volume. Developers that are used more often have their solutions changed out more often. For example, I’ve got a place downtown that changes the solution every day, and they have no problem cross processing as much as I want. But my local place has a lower volume and they only change out the solution once per week. They’ll cross process for me, but they ask that I don’t bring in more than a couple rolls at a time.

CORRECT THE COLORS WITH WHITE BALANCE

As I mentioned above, cross processing can produce some very strong color shifts in addition to other things. Sometimes these color shifts work really well with the subject and you’ll want to keep them. But other times, it’ll be too much an you’ll want to back it off a bit. This section is aimed at those of you scanning your film and processing the digital files (but this can also be done in the darkroom).

The best tool that I’ve found for this is the white balance adjustment found in software such as Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom. A color curves adjustment in Photoshop might be slightly better, but the white balance is so quick and easy in comparison.

For photos with a strong green color shift, increase your “tint” into the magenta region (or away from green). Depending on the film and the specific color shift, you may also need to adjust the “temperature” toward yellow or blue to take care of secondary color shifts left behind.

For photos with a strong red shift, move your “tint” into the green region (away from the magenta). Again, you may have to adjust the “temperature” to clean up the rest of the colors.

The same rules apply with yellow and blue color shifts — just move adjust the white balance in the opposite direction. So basically, you’re just evaluating the color shift of the photo, finding that color or combination of colors in your white balance adjustment, and compensating for it by negating the colors.

Another thing that works well with Adobe’s raw processor is the White Balance Tool even with cross processed film scans. Just find something in the photo that “should” be a neutral gray and sample it with the tool. This will adjust the white balance for you, then you can fine-tune it from there. I usually like to leave a bit of color shift in my photos (and sometimes all of it) — if you go too far with the white balance adjustments, you’ll start to see weird colors showing up in those neutral gray or white areas.

JOIN AN XPRO FLICKR GROUP

If you’re on Flickr, one of the best ways to get excited about a topic is to join a group dedicated to that topic. Seeing the photos and reading the discussions is a great way to get inspired and educated. Here are a few cross processing groups:

XPRO CROSS PROCESSING
Cross Processing – XP – XPRO
Kodak Xpro
Cross Process Masterpieces
Cross Processing Anonymous

Other than that, all I can do is suggest that you get out there and try things out for yourself. Try different films, different cameras, different developers, etc. Cross processing can be quite interesting, as it adds to the “unknown” factor already inherent in film photography.

For you seasoned cross processing film photographers out there, what other advice would you give to photographers just getting into this stuff?

Graffiti Artists

Graffiti Artists

Brian Auer | 03/08/2008 | Venice Beach, CA | 105mm * f/2.8 * 1/1000s * ISO200
[See it at Flickr]

I’ve been so tied up with film lately, so I wanted to take a look back at a digital photo that had quite a bit of post-processing done to it. This photo was taken at the graffiti walls in Venice Beach, California. I’ve always been attracted to graffiti as an art form, and being able to capture one of these artists at work was a treat. This area is designated for graffiti artists, so there’s no vandalism happening here.

Graffiti Artists Post-Processing

I wanted this image to really pop with color and intensity, while having an “edgy” look to enhance the mood. The photo was shot in RAW and processed entirely through the Adobe Camera Raw software (so no Photoshop). Here’s the process:

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    The RAW file looks pretty bad. It’s too cold, the contrast sucks, and the colors are dull.
  2. White Balance
    First things first, I corrected the white balance issue. The camera was set to “Auto WB”, but it made a really bad decision. So I bumped the temperature from 5500 to 7500 and the tint from +3 to +10 by setting the image to the “Shade” preset (since this was taken in the shade).
  3. Exposure
    I set the exposure to -.20, recovery to 36, fill light to 24, blacks to 17, brightness to +59, and contrast to +34. Not a huge change in the appearance of the photo, but it got my tones and histogram where I wanted them.
  4. Saturation
    I set the clarity to +85, vibrance to +33, and saturation to +11. Again, not a huge difference in the appearance of the photo, but these changes would be amplified in the next step.
  5. Curves
    I set the point curve to “strong contrast” and the values of the parametric curve as: highlights +32, lights +43, darks -49, and shadows -8. This really super-saturated the image and boosted the contrast way up. This wasn’t a linear one shot adjustment either — there was a lot of back and forth between the curves and the exposure/saturation values.
  6. Vignette
    I added some lens vignette with an amount of -75 and a midpoint of 60. This darkened the near and far edges while toning down the super-saturation — which helps to draw attention to the center portion of the photo.

This may be a bit extreme for your tastes, but I wanted to push the photo until it was alive with color.