It's amazing what a difference a crop can make. Yes, the BEFORE image needed more work than just a crop, but cropping was a critical step in transforming it from something with potential into a photograph worth looking at.
Fall colors come early in Canada's far north. This photo was shot in late August near Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, about 100 km south of the Arctic Circle and also just south of the "tree-line" - the point beyond which trees do not grow.
The striking thing about the nearly treeless landscape is the sense of space, which is precisely what I was trying to convey by radically cropping the BEFORE image and changing the aspect ratio to 2:1 from 3:2. You'll notice that I cropped almost entirely from the top, leaving the horizontal content of the frame virtually unchanged in the AFTER image. In other words, what's visible between the right and left sides of the frame is nearly identical in the BEFORE and AFTER images, but the longer, narrower aspect ratio in the AFTER image exaggerates the horizontal space.
The BEFORE image was underexposed, which I addressed with an exposure adjustment of the RAW file.
I used tone curve and fine-contrast adjustments to draw out detail in the beautifully colored ground cover. And I used color temperature and hue/saturation adjustments to compensate for a bluish color cast in the BEFORE image.