Revisiting Past Images

One of the beauties of photography as an artistic medium is the ability to revisit your work with new tools, and new eyes, and recreate your image without revisiting the original scene.  I have read and followed the sound advice to save most of my images, deleting only those that are technically incorrect or completely beyond salvage; the countless storage drives in my various closets speak to that fact!

I have found that I infrequently look through the “deep cuts” – the images that did not catch my eye on the first pass.  I have, however, found myself drawn back to images that did not quite work the first time around.  A couple of these newfound “keepers” are the topic of this blog.

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The first image came from a disappointing evening shot at Hunt’s Mesa overlooking Monument Valley.  The sky was uninspiring and the sun was not cooperating for any decent lighting for the anticipated sunset.  I shot for a couple of hours without much to show, and never really edited any of the images beyond the cursory initial review.

A couple of years later, I revisited that evening’s shots and found that my new eyes found a better image hiding inside this shot.   I could not transform the sunlight, but with cropping to remove the blasé sky and moving to black & white it became possible to bring out the texture and flow of the of the valley.

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The second image just caught my eye yesterday.  Taken in 2012 in Capri, the view of Mt. Vesuvius caught my eye from some balcony extending over the sea.  I initially tried to accentuate the blue sea and crop in a way teat saved the entirety of the interesting cloud formation; however, this left me with an unsatisfying square image, no movement, and an uninspiring boat in my poorly defined foreground.

Upon revisiting the image, I saw the narrowed edit within the frame.  The clouds were dynamic enough to survive this narrowed edit, and now my foreground boat tied together visually with the ominous volcano and clouds to create visual movement for the viewer.   Then I converted to Black & White.   Now, my uninspiring foreground sailboat became a clean, dark visual anchor in the foreground juxtaposed with the fluffy white clouds in the distance.  Now I had an image I liked.

The lesson here is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if a change in composition, coloration, or some other element modifiable in post-processing may allow your image to come alive.  In those in-between times when you are not able to create new images, look to your older ones and see if some of them might have a scene waiting to be unveiled!

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