Beginner trying to understand RAW developing success

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NeilMB Forum Member • Posts: 84
Beginner trying to understand RAW developing success

I am fairly new to digital photography beyond P&S and phones. Since I started two months ago, I have shot RAW to have more flexibility to save my mistakes (underexposure, white balance). I have been developing my images in Darktable and now RawTherapee on Linux. I am taking a photography class and learning about how to critique and improve my images, but I am struggling to critique and improve my RAW developing. My process feels totally subjective and I worry that I'm getting away from a "good" picture by adding up too many small tweaks.

Here is an example from the other day. The camera is a Canon 7D with an EF-S 18-200mm zoom. First the camera's JPEG extracted from the RAW file.

No EXIF because Canon doesn't add it to the embedded preview image.

And now the version that I ended up with after developing the RAW file in RawTherapee:

Exposure, White balance, saturation

Have I gone too far? or is there even more that I could/should have done with it?

I know that this may be a completely unreasonable question, but I'm trying to put the same effort into improving my post-processing skills as I am putting into my picture taking, and I'm at a loss for feedback on what I could be doing better. If anyone wants to show me how it's really done, I've posted the RAW file at

Thanks in advance for any feedback you can share with me.


 NeilMB's gear list:NeilMB's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Canon EF-S 24mm F2.8 STM Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
Canon EOS 7D
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