Rise above sentiment (+ re-edit)

Here is my attempt to perk it up and get rid of the contrail. I’m not very good with Ps, so didn’t try anything more than just that. Sky Mask sounds interesting, but I will have to learn a lot more about Ps before I give it a go.

This is a bog directly off a highway here in northern Wisconsin. I’ve driven by it a bunch of times then suddenly someone piled a stack of pallets and started this path. I think it’s to allow hunters in and out easier without damaging the bog layer like ATVs and trucks would. I went in search of a good sunset, but neither clouds nor color manifested.

The sun had just gone over the horizon so it wasn’t super bright. The pallets have been out in the elements for quite some time and have weathered to this blue/gray color which I really liked against the fall colors of the bog plants.

Specific Feedback Requested

So…I’m thinking of having this printed to hang in my house. Probably 16x20. I will soft proof it to the best of my ability before sending the file for printing. What (if anything) would you do to improve the processing or cropping? Other than cloning out the contrail which I will do.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Panasonic DC-G9
LUMIX G VARIO 12-35mm F2.8
Focal Length 12.0 mm (24mm in 35mm)
f/10 | 1/10 | ISO 200

Lr for lens correction and to even exposure between sky and fg. Added texture and clarity and played with yellow & orange color channels to bump luminance. I don’t think it’s cropped much.

Hi Kristin! I hope you enjoy NPN.
What a cool scene. This Boardwalk looks more appealing to me than the one in New Jersey. I think the colors in the bog vegetation are really intriguing. Do you have some small scenes of those?
The boards and trees seem desolate, and the bog seems alive.
It sounds like the colors of the scene were quite important to you. With that in mind, I played with the image a bit.
The sky has a lot of color that can be teased out in Photoshop, and maybe in LR with its Color Grading. The vapor trail in the sky can be dealt with in LR (Sport Removal/Heal) or in PS (Content-Aware Fill).
I also found that the bog and boards have some more color that can be accentuated a little with contrast or saturation to tease out some texture.
The dark trees in my markup were poorly selected against the sky, so that generated some halos that are not present in your image. I used Select Sky in PS to mask for the sky, and better options are available.
These are just thought from my eyes and inclinations, so if they take the image away from your concepts, please don’t let them.
Keep this good stuff coming.

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Thanks very much @Dick_Knudson - am enjoying NPN so far. I like the direction you’re taking with this and will give some of the techniques a try and then repost.

Also, as the sky darkens, an errant round brush mark shows up between left and main trees

Oops, thought I blended better and got it all. How does this look??

Looks nice. I think you have one more decision … How much of the sky/top serves your overall purpose? If some were cropped, the horizon would move off center and the scene might have a bit more energy.

Well I hesitate to crop much at all because of the pallet’s leading edge. There’s not much to work with down there and I think cutting off an edge would look weird. Or maybe it’s just me.

Am having a look through other images to see if one might work better.

None have enough room in the sky - cropped in the field too close. And I just measured my frames and they’re 12x18, so that’s a 2:3 ratio and so I need to crop this anyway. Thoughts?