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 https://drive.google.com/file/d/168a4WPVAMpGsBJ0FyzL5a1HF1KFuA4sP.

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

-Neil

 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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