The first step I take when creating my images, is cleanup, or also referred to as healing. This part of my process is vital, especially for when pictures are going to be blown-up for print. It helps to keep color transitions smooth and healing is a great way to enhance an image. Usually its a once over with a healing brush to remove blotches and sensor dust, the stamp tool to get rid of things like road signs and garbage, and the patch tool if all else fails.
I create helper layers which emphasize the details, this ensures I don’t miss a thing. After creating the helper layers, you can see why healing an image is completely necessary. The image below is the results of a single pass, with the healing brush. I’m really picky when it comes to this step, I’ll spend at least 10-15 mins just getting every little speck.
This helps me to provide the best looking print and really helps create that aesthetic look that is fine-art. This is the very beginning step, after this I continue on with the rest of my workflow.