revisiting old photographs

I’ve been spending some time this morning revisiting some older photographs of mine. I had stumbled across one from a couple years ago, and my first reaction was “Bleh! I can do better than that!”. So I went to the archives, pulled out the file, and began to work. That’s one of the joys and creative challenges of working in digital photography: it is a constantly evolving art form. Within a couple hours, I managed to bring more life into the photograph, and made it feel more like I originally intended. I improved the color, brought out more details, and added more focus on the acorn itself.

Old version:

New version:

Ansel Adams said that the film is the score, and the print is the performance. This is especially true in the digital darkroom. I am constantly learning, changing and evolving. My vision is refining and maturing. My tools get more sophisticated and more powerful. And my ability to pull that vision out of the pixels is always getting better.

Oh course, the challenge is to avoid what you might call the George Lucas Syndrome. With digital never having to be finished, there will always be the impulse to constantly change things, simply because you can. But that is just one more lesson I need to learn as an artist: when to improve, and when to leave to good enough alone. So when I get tempted to mess with an old photograph, I need to take a step back, think about if my additional work will add or subtract from the piece review. And always remember: Han shot first.


Dan, I can relate to your comments about being tempted to tweak too much. As a SW fan, I certainly got a laugh at your reference. It seems like there are so many new tools available to us now, it is hard not to be tempted into at least trying them out. I have certainly been reworking a lot of new images myself with the help of luminosity masks now, and some new tools available to me in Lightroom. I haven’t gone as far as making Greedo shoot first, and I think that is a very important line for people to draw for themselves.