It was sheer bad luck that ruined the shots that came before this photo, and sheer determination to make the next shot work. When I arrived at this scene the storm already passed, but the sky was still alight. What I didn't realize until it was too late is that it was still drizzling. I shoot with a Canon TS 17mm, that looks like a fish-eye and doesn't take a hood. All this means that it's a magnet for water specs. Basically all the photos I took while the light was moving across the sky were ruined by water drops. I'm not talking about one or two here and there (that could've been easily removed in post proc) but the entire front of the lens was covered in them! By the time I realized what happened it was too late... I cleaned up the lens as best as I could and took a few more shots with whatever light was left. The sun was behind the clouds to the right of the mountain peak, shining just the tiniest amount on the snow, but it was nothing compared to the light show 5 minutes prior.
So I went to work.
First things first, lights up in ACR and a ND grad to pull back the sky.
Next came color work in LAB mode. I always give LAB a try at some point or the other during post. 90% of the time it doesn't add anything to the image, but the 10% when it works, it works!
Then... initially I thought my eyes are playing tricks on me.. but I noticed that there was something weird going on smack above the peak. 2 almost vertical lines. Most likely I didn't clean the lens properly, and the lines were 2 water specs that got smeared by my cleaning cloth. Pretty sure a few PS versions ago this would've meant curtains, but a bit of love and some cloning/healing brush/content-aware fill took care of it.
Time to bring back the light. This is the part when I feel I have the most fun.. when I try to bend the shot to what I saw.
This type of light work ends up drastically decreasing contrast in the mid tones, so I punched that back, and added just a bit of Orton to the lit snow.
Almost done... I noticed that a bird left some souvenirs right in the middle of the shot (the white stuff) so I cloned that out and increased the light a bit to give it more life. And voila..
You can find the bigger version here: http://www.brunovais.com/earth/h441a9653#h441a9653
As per usual, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have. The post-proc instruction page can be found here: http://www.brunovais.com/instruction
Till next time!