It might surprise you to learn that the transformation from the left image to the right took less than a minute in Photoshop including the loading and saving of the image! Really I hear you ask, how did you manage that? Around three years ago I went along to a Photovision road show and watched in amazement as one of the seminar presenters took image after image and blindly (literally) retouched them in less than a minute at a time. This included in one instance a complete replacement of the sky, including dealing the the sky reflection in a lake. The presenter was called Guy Gowan and he really did open my eyes to a superb way of processing images that doesn’t take a lot of time, but produces superb results 9 times out of 10.
I won’t reveal his secret sauce, although one of the foundations is detailed in a previous post, but I do urge you to go check out his web site (www.guygowan.com) and have your eyes opened to another way of processing that is straightforward, logical and produces great results in no time at all. Obviously in some instances you will want to take the images further and add textures etc to them to bring out the artistic side, but in 90% of your photographs his techniques will nail you the image you were after.