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Happy New Year: A Chance to Revisit Your Old Images

New Years is a time to celebrate with friends, to make plans for the coming year, and a time to reminisce on what happened over the last. But it can also be a great time to take a second look at the images you've shot in the past. Software keeps getting better as hopefully do your skills with using that software. You may just find some great images you missed the first time around.

Whether you shoot a lot of images or just a few, not all of them are likely to be winners. But given the plummeting cost of hard drive space, I tend to keep most everything that isn't a total lost cause. Yes, I end up with some of them just as I'm sure you do. After deleting the ones I definitely don't want anyone to ever see, it's time to get down to work on the remainder. Some require little more than basic raw file conversion, while others are more like diamonds in the rough. At least some of the latter end doing nothing more than take up space on a hard drive while I pursue more promising prospects with others. Every now and then, it's worth taking some time out to revisit those forgotten images to see what can be done with them.

There are a lot of things that might cause an image to get bypassed initially. Some are merely underexposed far enough that their real worth doesn't jump out when first examined. Others need more complicated levels or curves adjustments and so on. When you go back through your old rejects you may come across some that require adjustments that were beyond your skills back when you shot them but now you feel more up to tackling. There are lots of ways to attack what ails an image. With the right tricks, difficult problems can turn out to be relatively easy to fix. Indeed, I've written about some of those sorts of tricks here at Earthbound Light over the years. I'm hoping that at least some of you reading this now have learned a few from me yourselves.

But regardless of what you knew then about optimizing digital images or what you know now, some things that are possible now couldn't be done at all in the past. Recovery and fill light in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom can work wonders for images that without would be difficult to salvage. A simple touch of vibrance can come far closer to creating the look of Fuji Velvia film than all but the most expertly twiddled saturation sliders. HDR (High Dynamic Range) techniques can pull things out of an image or series of images would have seemed almost magic without. I think you get the idea.

So as we head into another year full of photographic possibilities, remember to take some time out to revisit your old images too. You may just find you shot some great images you never even knew you had.

By the way, if you're making a list of photographic New Years resolutions, here's some I put together a few years ago.

A Happy New Year to all.

Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls. A touch of recovery to avoid the burned out highlights at the top, plus fome fill light and a little vibrance and this is an entirely different image than I started with.
Sunrise over the San Juan Islands
Sunrise over the San Juan Islands. This was a badly underexposed image that I combined with another shot that showed more foreground detail but burned out the sky almost completely. I like this far better than either of the original two of the same scene.

Date posted: January 2, 2011


Copyright © 2011 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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