Rediscovering Old Photos

Bishop Creek, Before & After

If you’re like me, you probably have hundreds, maybe even thousands of images you’ve created over the years.  Some are good, and many are not so good.  So, what do you do with all of them?

One of the things I’ve been doing is going back and looking through them.  Just looking at them brings back memories of the time and place, and I can almost feel the experience all over again!  It’s interesting the flashes of memory that comes up when viewing an image –  I can almost remember exactly what I was doing and thinking when I was actually there.

As time goes on, and I kept accumulating images on my harddrives, I’ve also been learning new post processing techniques.  Some of my “not-so-good” photos are finding new life!

Before I share one of these techniques, I’d like to say something about gear, you know, “the stuff”.  The photos I’m showing are either from my Canon Rebel (300D) with it’s whopping 6 mega-pixels, or my Canon Rebel XT (350D).  They were also made using either the kit 18-55mm or 70-100mm lens, nothing fancy.  It’s my opinion that you should learn to use what you have rather than focusing on every new camera that comes out.  Learn what it takes to create a great image first, and let the gear follow.  Developing your eye, and knowing how to make the camera you have capture that moment, will go a long way towards helping your grow as a photographer/artist rather than chasing the gear.

Off of the soapbox and back to the photos.  Here’s the “Before” photo from above:

Bishop Creek, original

This one is from my Canon 300D with 18-55mm lens, ND filter, and tripod.  Overall it’s not bad.  A little blah as far as color and contrast, but not bad.

And here’s my newly processed version:


The adjustments really make the image pop (I think).  Lots of great color and contrast, and especially detail.

Here’s another more extreme example.  The before image is very blah, washed out, over exposed, etc…

Fall Colors, Bishop Creek Original

As you can see, it’s not very good.  I did get the motion blur I was looking for with the rushing creek, but everything else was overexposed or lacked contrast.

The after is a big improvement:

Fall Colors, Bishop Creek

One of the adjustments that I make is to add some contrast.  In photoshop the screen looks like this:

Photoshop Levels Screenshot

In the screenshot above, you can see the photo and the tool I use to increase contrast, the Levels adjustment tool.  You see a histogram of your image representing the highlights, midtones, and shadows.  There are sliders along the bottom that you can use to adjust each of these.  I adjust them while watching what it does to my photo.  Once I’ve got it right where I like it, I close the tool.  Most other photo editing programs have similar tools for adjusting contrast.

Next is a link to a Youtube video.  Unfortunately this is for Photoshop users.  I’m sure there are similar techniques for the other programs out there, just search in Youtube for tutorials on your particular program.  Here’s the link – Add Amazing Details.

Searching the web for post processing tutorials has led me to what looks like a great resource if you’re a Lightroom user.  Check it out – Lightroom Killer Tips.

There are a lot of great resources online for whichever editing program you choose to use.  Most of them are free, you just have to do some searching to find them.  Personally, I’ve learned a lot from them.  Maybe you will too.

I’d like to leave you with this quote:

“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.” ~ Ansel Adams

In closing I’d like to say that it may be worth going though some of your old photos, the ones you have stored on your harddrive.  There may be some potential there, you just need to learn a few of the new tricks out there to give them new life!  If you find anything helpful, share it with us!

Until next time, Happy Shooting!