On occasion, I will photograph a scene that I know will likely not make for a strong image of its own accord but could be an interesting picture by using some Photoshop technique or plug-in.
I noticed this scene near the end of a recent visit to Petit Jean State Park. It was late morning, and the lighting had become very contrasty. As I made my way across Cedar Creek, I noticed a group of trees on the opposite creek bank. The yellow leaves were in full sunlight while the trunks were in shade. I knew I faced two problems with the scene: the high contrast between the bright leaves and dark trunks and the less than compelling subject matter. But, as I considered my options, it occurred to me that converting the image to look like a painting might resolve both issues.
When I got home, I opened the file in Adobe Camera Raw and made exposure, contrast, highlight, and shadow adjustments. As I had suspected, the image did not create much interest for me. I then opened the picture in Photoshop and applied one of the presets available in the Topaz Simplify plug-in to create an image I quite like.
Settings: Canon 5D Mk II, 200mm, 1/15 sec, f/22