Take 2: RAW-Reality-Fantasy; MBTA PCCs at Mattapan

In yesterday’s post [MBTA PCCs with a Cotton Candy Sky] I described my philosophy and technique with regards to working with a RAW file to maintain a high-level of detail with a textured sky.
With today’s post, I’ve selected a similar image as another example of how I’ve implemented adjustments using the program Lightroom.
The final image is intended as an ‘over the top’ example of how to create a fantasy image from a RAW file. I’m neither endorsing nor condemning photo fantasies, (they appear often enough on the internet), but simply describing one method of producing this result, as well as my interpretation of the scene as I saw it.
Example 1; this is the scaled RAW file, unaltered except for necessary sizing. Notice that the sky is blown out, especially at the left while the streetcar and tracks are too dark. I exposed this image to favor the sky, knowing in advance that I could retrieve shadow detail to present a better exposure balance in the final image.
Example 1; this is the scaled RAW file, unaltered except for necessary sizing. Notice that the sky is not as blown out as with yesterday’s example. I exposed this image to favor the sky, making it about one half stop darker than the image presented yesterday. I expected to  retrieve shadow detail to present a better exposure balance in the final image. Had I exposed for the streetcars, the sky would have been very over exposed, possibly beyond the ability to make correction.
Example 2. As with yesterday's second example, I've digitally introduced a graduated neutral density filter to the sky. This helps darken the sky relative to the lower half of the image while better balancing detail and color in the clouds. I've not yet altered the shadow areas so the streetcars still appear too dark and dull.
Example 2. As with yesterday’s second example, I’ve digitally introduced a graduated neutral density filter to the sky. This helps darken the sky relative to the lower half of the image while better balancing detail and color in the clouds. I’ve not yet altered the shadow areas so the streetcars still appear too dark and dull.
Example 3. Here I've lightened the above file by adjusting the 'shadows' slider and made nominal global adjustment to the mid-tone areas using the 'clarity' slide which gives the image a bit of snap. My goal was to make the streetcars appear more or less as they did to my eye when I made the photo.
Example 3. Here I’ve lightened the above file by adjusting the ‘shadows’ slider and made nominal global adjustment to the mid-tone areas using the ‘clarity’ slider which gives the image a bit of snap. My goal was to make the streetcars appear more or less as they did  when I made the photo. Normally this would be my ‘final’ interpretation. However for the sake of the exercise and to gauge public opinion, I’ve continued with my manipulation of the RAW file (see below).
Here's my fantasy. I've over-enhanced the RAW file by pushing the 'clarity', 'saturation' and 'vibrance' sliders to the right. The manipulation is easily accomplished and the result jumps out and grabs you. However, let me be clear: this is a fantasy, the scene never looked this way in real life.
Here’s my fantasy. I’ve over-enhanced the RAW file by pushing the ‘clarity’, ‘saturation’ and ‘vibrance’ sliders to the right. The manipulation is easily accomplished and the result jumps out and grabs you. However, let me be clear: this is a fantasy, the scene never looked this way in real life.

However, if this image helps save the Mattapan-Ashmont trolley from extinction, then I’m all for fantasy!

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