New Techniques For Old Images

One question that I’m always plagued with is, is it worth going back over older images and refinishing them? As programs become more advanced it becomes easier and easier to finish those favorite photographs that we all take. However, is it worth the time to do so? I truly don’t know the answer but I have discovered one truth. As I look over my older images I notice some that I did a good job with and some a bad job with. The ones that I didn’t do as good a job with I don’t use for anything they just sit on the hardrive. Therefore it makes more sense to take a look at those images that aren’t so popular and there is a very handy tool to help with that.


If you already have an image that you want to rework then you can either keep going where you left off or find the original image and start from the beginning. Lets say you want to keep going from where you left off, well now you can apply Adobe Camera Raw as a filter so you can make those subtle changes. This TP-40 is a great example because not only is it a rare plane but I ended up going through several steps that made for one large file. That’s one of the big benefits of going through ACR.

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Here is the image after deleting the other layers and just applying the Camera Raw Filter. There is a subtle difference to the image, mostly with the highlights, and that was one area that I really wanted to change because it was too much. The other big difference you can’t see but the file size has been cut in half which is important later on down the road when that hardrive starts to fill up. Now when it comes to that question of reprocessing I still don’t have a great answer but in the end I think it comes down to whether the image in question is one that you use a lot and thus has already been seen or if it’s one that you don’t use and you have to ask yourself why that it is.

A first Look at ACR Light Painting

Yesterday I announced that I was going to be speaking at the Adobe booth at Photoshop World this September. The topic I’m going to be speaking about is what I like to call Light painting in ACR. Here is a more in depth look at what that is. We all know that working with the raw image is one of the best ways to make the most happen without doing any harm. Camera Raw allows us to to be non destructive with our images. The other major benefit about working with the Raw images is it’s ability to make major changes without increasing file size. I shoot mostly with the D4 these days and those files are big! After finishing they get even bigger, so the less steps I have to take in Photoshop the better. That was one of the major draws to processing this way.


Like most photographers I have a series of steps I take for the different areas I photograph. The standard for my wildlife work had always been to never use post processing on any of my images. My landscape work has always been to capture the beauty of the world while trying to evoke an emotional response with the viewer. My aviation work is a combination of the both; documenting the history of the aircraft while making that connection with the viewers. With that all in mind this barn sits on a ranch that has belonged to a family here in Bozeman for decades. We had a great thunderstorm come through so naturally I wanted to capture the beauty in the clouds while showing the age and texture in the barn. Well if you have ever used ACR then you know that there are many great sliders that allow you to target certain areas. The Shadow, Highlight and Whites sliders are great tools to affect globally. The issue is if you are working with clouds with bright spots, you can easily create hot spots if you move those sliders too much. This is where the Adjustment Brush comes in handy.


By using the natural light that’s in every photograph combined with the variances in light and dark colors in the image, you can create a more visually impactful image by bringing out certain areas. Using just the adjustment brush bringing up and down the exposure or shadows can bring out those areas that are important to the story. In this case the story is this old barn and the sky overhead. Well it was sunset, sunset brings golden light when it pops through the clouds. By moving the temperature slider up you can get a golden light feel in the areas your painting in. By doing this in key areas you can start to create that story. Then by placing a gradient on top with the exposure brought down makes it look like a more ominous sky. All the elements were already in place before doing any of this, the trick is seeing those elements and then bringing them out.

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