Today I want to talk about two different issues I often see with dark ride photos. First off, and the biggest offender is too much denoising. One thing to keep in mind when denoising is that when doing so you are not just removing noise, you are also removing detail. Scrubbing a photo til it’s completely noise free usually means you’ve also scrubbed all the details away. My suggestion for avoiding this is to run a denoise pass, but then use a layer mask to apply that mask only to the dark areas. This is usually where the most noise is present and likewise where the least detail is present. I’ve applied this method to this shot and I think you’ll agree the final image is quite clean.
Next is the tendency to boosts shadows and blacks to show all the little details and trinkets hiding in the shadows. I have to double check myself on this. By doing so you are removing contrast and often making the image look washed out. Furthermore, boosting shadows so extensively often brings you back to trying to clean it up with excessive denoising where you end up scrubbing those details away. I suggest being more judicious with the shadows slider, pulling them up to reveal some detail, but being careful to retain contrast. In my opinion the image with solid contrast is going to look better and be more interesting than the image that’s been boosted, denoised, and washed out… even if it shows off stuff typically hidden in the shadows.