moderated Case Study: Monument Valley

Dan Margulis

While discussion continues of the Panama shot, I’ve posted the next case study, another selection from the MIT study. Therefore, as with the Veiled Bride, Cinque Terre, and Colosseum studies, unsharp masking is not permitted.

Here we move from Italy to the United States for one of the most iconic scenes of the Old West, Monument Valley, in the Navajo Nation on the border between Utah and Arizona. 

The countdown continues: five weekly case studies left, including this one.


*This is one of 5,000 images taken from a large MIT study. for which permission is given for educational use. The sponsors solicited contributions of images that were supposed to represent the range that a professional retoucher might receive. They then hired five intermediate retouchers to correct each. The 25,000 resulting files were made public, as were the .dng files they started with. Some of these efforts will be posted along with those of our group.

*In the study, no instructions were given as to what the client wanted. This scene has been photographed millions of times, so it's up to you how much original interpretation you want to do.

*You can use whatever methods you like to improve the picture EXCEPT AN UNSHARP MASK filter or similar, because the original retouchers in the MIT study were not allowed to.

*Please keep clear records of what you did for discussion. List members find these very valuable.

*In the Photos section, Case Study: Monument Valley, 
I have uploaded a version opened with Camera Raw defaults, and another where the settings were much flatter. You may use either, or fetch the .dng as below.

* does not allow .dng format in the Photos section. If you want the .dng, you must download a zipped file from the Files section. NOTE: the zipped file contains the two default images as well, you don't need to download them separately.

*The designated size of this exercise is 3008 x 2000 pixels. If you use the .dng image be sure to open into the correct size. Do not crop, rotate, or alter the sizing, and don't delete any objects, because any of these things will make it impossible to use your version as part of a par assembly. Also, we had reports last time that Lightroom was not acquiring these .dngs in exactly the same aspect as other modules due to a lens correction. Therefore, we recommend that as soon as you acquire, you apply one of the default versions to it to make sure that all pixels line up.

*Your final file is to be sRGB with a proper tag. If you work in a different RGB you must Edit: Convert to Profile>sRGB before submitting the file.

*When finished, save in JPEG form, quality level 9. E-mail it to me, dmargulis (at), with a brief explanation of how you produced it, including what file you used for your original. DO NOT POST IMAGES TO THE LIST.

*Remember that some e-mail clients automatically downsize image attachments. Make sure you’re sending it to me at the original size.

*Entries close Monday morning, 6 July, at 06:00 Eastern/1100Z/12:00 ora italiana.

*Rather than confirm every entrant I've received, I will periodically post the initials of everyone whose file I have.

*As soon as convenient after the deadline, I'll post all the entrants in a random order. Names will not be revealed except for those entrants who have identified themselves publicly. 

*A discussion will follow within a few days after posting the final files. 

Dan Margulis

A reminder that entries are due in this case study in 48 hours, at 06:00 eastern time Monday/1100Z/12:00 ora italiana.

Two entries have already come in in the wrong colorspace. Please make sure you are sending tagged sRGB. I have converted the incorrect ones.

I confirm receipt of entries from the following individuals:

*indicates that a corrected version was submitted

Entries from the following were at an incorrect size/cropping and would have to be resubmitted:



Jeanne L.D. Tifft

I've been lurking here for quite awhile and meant to try this case study for starters.  I tried to download it and got only a solid black image?  Please direct me to your instructions for adding to these little cases.  Thank you!
Jeanne Tifft
JLD Tifft Images

Gerald Bakker

Hi Jeanne, this is how to download the image. On the menu left, click Photos. Open the group called "Case Study: Monument Valley". You'll see two representations of the same image: one the original, the other a flattened version of it. Choose whichever you prefer to work with and click to open it. Click the blue Download button below the image and you'll see the photo in its original resolution. Then, right mouse, Save image as...
Gerald Bakker