At the risk of being boring, this is my third project using this same image. It started as a random pick for one project, and then I kept getting inspired to take one more step. It's not a great image in the first place (very grainy) but it has been fun to give it "life". It was a gorgeous sight in real life, with the pink of sunset in the clouds and the California hills so green after all the rain we finally had this spring. The original photo did not do justice to reality, but it's been fun to see it slowly transforming.
In two previous projects, I used the histogram and curves to fix the overall color of the image and then lightened and brought out more color in the hills and trees in the foreground with a layer mask. For this project, I wanted to remove two distractions: a dirt road on the hillside and a painted metal post in the foreground.
Here's the before and after:
Now I am starting to feel like the eye is drawn into the misty sunset and layers of hills, instead of being pulled in two directions by the post and the road.
I can still see flaws where I used the spot healing brush to remove the road, but I did learn some tricks while experimenting. For one thing, after painting down the length of the road there was a rather obvious sense of a "line", so I painted a few perpendicular lines across it to just break up the monotony and bring in some additional color and texture. It still left some repetitive artifacts, but this isn't exactly a pro photo anyway, so I'll leave it alone for now. Unless I just can't help myself later.... :)