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A Good Time to Revisit Old Images

Many of us remain in our bunkers with more time on our hands than usual. Seems like a perfect opportunity to revisit and rework old images.

I save most of my old images, even the ones that I'd be unlikely to show anyone else. I even have shelves of old 35mm slides from back in the film days before digital took over. Admittedly, this is partly because keeping them is easier than going through them and making the hard decisions. So long as I have enough space, I just prefer it this way. And with digital shooting, I doubt I'll ever run out of hard drive space. I do eye all those slides from time to time, but at least the stacks haven't been growing in a good while now, and so they remain.

When I get home from a trip, I try to spend sufficient time going through my results to cull out the ones I'm really fond of or that show strong potential. Of course, not everything comes out as planned. At least some of the time I had the foresight to cover myself, and the good fortune to end up with better versions of these subjects. But the remainder of such images generally end up relegated as dreams that might have been. A portion of those images that missed the bullseye end up serving nonetheless as lessons learned and reminders of things not to do next time. Then there are the ones that don't fit any of these obvious categories and simply get filed away for posterity with only brief periods of passing attention. Somehow, they just never caught my attention.

No matter how good of a photographer you may be, you probably have some shots that didn't quite come out as expected too and got left by the wayside too. There they are, stacked up on the virtual shelves in your digital darkroom, not in slide boxes with those very specific shades of Kodak yellow and Fuji green perhaps, but hidden just as effectively in the tracks and sectors on an array of hard drives. Please tell me you don't have all your images on a single drive with no backup, right? But that's a subject for another day.

But regardless of how and where you store your images, if you've recently found yourself with some extra time on your hands, have I got an idea for you. No, not jigsaw puzzles. I'm talking about digging into your back catalog. In the nooks and crannies of your collection, there just may be surprises awaiting you, if you take the time for a second look.

Over the years, I've gotten better at using Photoshop and Lightroom. Maybe it's a bit like riding a bike, but effectively using Photoshop takes time and practice to even begin to master. When I look at some of my digital adjustments from years ago, I occasionally feel a bit of a twinge. I know I could do better today. Boy, I was so green back then, wasn't I? It's OK, I know. We all feel that way now and then, or at least we should. That's what growth in skill appears as when you look back at it over the passing of time. The same holds true in other aspects of this craft, too. I'd like to at least think that I can take a better picture than I once could now that I've been doing it for some while. Hopefully, we're all getting better as we go.

Given all this, I'd like to recommend spending some of your spare time revisiting and reworking some of your lost treasures. Whenever I do so, I find at least one or a few that appear more promising than prior assessments led me to believe. Granted, some of these end up yielding no better results than before, but some turn out to be real gems in the rough. With a bit of finesse and polish, some can really shine. If you've been shooting for some while now, I'm betting you have some undiscovered gems waiting in your archives too.

And these software applications have themselves gotten better over the years too. As odd as it is to consider now, there was no Lightroom back when I started. No Camera Raw or anything. Photoshop didn't even have a History palette, so when you made a change, you really made it. Some things that simply weren't possible regardless of skill can turn out to be downright easy today. From Vibrance to Content-Aware Fill, we've never had it so good. Think about all the tools you have available today for your new images. Now stop and give them a try on some of your older ones.

The act of reviewing old images can be worth it, even if you don't discover any killer images hidden in the mix. Photo albums and Facebook can attest to that. Sometimes it can be fun just to relive memories of wonderful trips, fun, and perhaps simpler, times. My Father used to entertain us all with slide shows taken on family vacations and significant holidays. Maybe he did overdo it at times, but it still was fun.

None of us know where this whole coronavirus thing will lead or how it will change us for having been here as long as it already seems to have been. A trip down memory lane just might be right up your alley right now, so to speak.

Date posted: April 5, 2020


Copyright © 2020 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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