Reviving Old Images

An image originally marked for the scrap file pile, given a  simple, but effective makeover.

An image originally marked for the scrap file pile, given a simple, but effective makeover.

It’s true; when I originally reviewed this image taken in April 2012, I decided that it would be no more than a simple reference shot, and sent it to my living scrap file folder. The reason I use the term “living” is because my intention is to return to these files someday and attempt to figure out how to improve my overall photographic technique.

In this case, I decided that a simple technique that has become an invaluable part of my workflow, could turn this image around.

The first time I reviewed the image, all I could think of was that the tones were all over the place. It was not until recently that I realized that the only major problem with this image was the awful white balance. After all; my white balance is typically always set to auto, for every shooting condition. In this case the resulting image looked so bad, I failed to give it a second chance.

The Simple Fix

After completing my usual initial workflow in Adobe Camera Raw, I opened the image in Photoshop. I then selected a new layer, by clicking Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Levels, and then clicked OK. In my new Levels Layer, I selected the White Point Eye-Dropper. I then placed the Eye-dropper on the brightest part of the image; in this case, the white square, located at the left edge of the Golden Gate Bridge. I clicked the brightest white area, and just like magic the image was transformed into something I can now consider as much more pleasing to the eye. Just as importantly, I had now restored the image to a more accurate rendition of what I witnesses during that particular Bay Area morning.

The image was captured using an exposure of 173 seconds at f/22. This view is found at the end of the Berkeley Pier, in Berkeley, California.

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5 thoughts on “Reviving Old Images

  1. The World Is My Cuttlefish

    This really is beautiful. The colours and various highlights make it very peaceful.
    You make post-processing sound so easy. The software options are so numerous I wasn’t sure where to begin so just downloaded the free entry version of Photomatix. How did you choose what to work with?

    Reply
    1. davidshieldphotography Post author

      Thank you, Annie! I really appreciate your comments. There are SO many processing options out there, and your preference will definitely depend on your output style. If you like the look of HDR; Photomatix is a good product. I no longer use HDR. I can say that many professionals use either Photoshop, Lightroom or Capture One. I like PS and Capture One. If someone was new to the processing world, I would recommend starting with Photoshop Elements. It is under $100, and has many great tools. If you really like HDR, then Photomatix or NIK software are good.

      Reply
  2. andygough01

    This image is fantastic. I’m new to the landscape photography scene and whilst I am learning and enjoying my camera, editing is driving me mad.. I’m struggling on workflow, however your tip on the white point eye dropper in levels is great and one I will try out. Looking through your images are a true inspiration to me – Thank you for showing the world what you do.

    Reply
    1. davidshieldphotography Post author

      Hi Andy, thank you for your nice comment; I appreciate that very much. Reaching an image processing workflow comfort level, took quite a while for me. research and lots of practice helped a great deal. I am looking forward to checking out your blog page.

      Reply
      1. andygough01

        Thank you David, I believe I’m getting there with my workflow and I’m starting to understand the different uses of many features in Photoshop. My goal is to get things as near as possible in camera and then perform minimal editing.

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