Periodically I look through my image files to see if there are candidates that could benefit from what I’ve learned about processing. It’s partly a way to see if I’m improving over time and partly a challenge to “develop” an image I’d rejected previously.
The one above is an example. I made this one in 2009, before going off to photo school. With all of one workshop under my belt and better reading of photo instruction guides, I started trying to compose images instead of snap pictures. At the time, though, I still assumed “good” pictures came out of the camera that way so from my first glance at this one I tagged it unremarkable and moved on.
I found it today and realized the processing skills I’ve picked up since would benefit this image. Realizing that what initially attracted me to this scene was the contrast between the rock-solid sign and pedestal among the dynamic, chaotic water and leaf-less trees (enhanced by the word “quiet” among all the motion), I worked on emphasizing that key element. I sharpened the edges of the sign and concrete wall and the edges of the steps in the background. I increased the contrast of the limbs and trees to improve their dimensionality. I even enhanced the contrast of the water ripples to make them more obvious. Overall I expanded the tonal range of the picture, making sure there were deep blacks and clean whites with lots of grey transitions between. Finally, I placed a faint vignette on the image, centered on the sign with a gradient darkening toward the edges.
None of this could I do back in 2009 – I doubt I even knew what I wanted in a final image. With education, feedback, advice and a sense of curiosity I feel there are aspects of photography making sense. And I’m pleased that “old” work can become new again.
Now if I can only master printing such an image and preserve this look……