I use my favorite photos as desktop backgrounds at home and at work. In the mix I have images going back as far as 2006, when I bought my first Pentax DSLR. Every now and then an image crosses my screen that I just… feel different about. Sometimes it’s a piece of dust or a blob, sometimes it’s a crop, and sometimes it’s the lighting. Usually I just take note and let them pass; recently I’ve begun re-editing.
That’s what happened with this image. It is one of the earlier images that I took with my Canon in 2009. It’s the Nubble Lighthouse in York, Me. I took the image as the sun was setting and edited it in Lightroom the best I knew how at the time. This is how it came out and how it’s been for the last 10 years.
As an image it’s fine. The composition is centered, you can see a bit of reflection off the water, the lighting is warm, and the image is sharp. But 8 years of editing and composition experience has taught me some things that make me look at it in a different light.
The first thing I noticed was that the foreground was very dark. My Canon could never match the dynamic range of my Nikon so I wasn’t accustomed to pulling details out of shadows in post-processing until recently. It wasn’t something I did when I originally processed this image but I decided to give it a try now. It was still a RAW file, after all. I started by upgrading the Adobe process version by two versions from Version 2 (2010) to Version 4. This immediately added a bit of dynamic range to the image. I then adjusted the shadows to increase their exposure and even out the image a bit. I was surprised by the level of recovery I achieved without additional noise. The detail of the rocks is revealed and the eye is no longer drawn to it.
My next adjustment was white balance. My Nikon generally nails it but my Canon did not. Again, I wasn’t as tuned in to white balance at the time so I stuck with the default which was cooler than it should have been. A quick Auto white balance provides a much warmer sunset color.
The grand finale was to enable lens correction. Adobe Lightroom corrects lens distortion (causing straight lines to bend outward or inward) and vignetting (darkness at the edges of the frame) for the majority of the lenses on the market. I didn’t use this feature a lot until recently and applied it to this image. It provided a moderate improvement to the edges of the image.
I’m always working to improve my photography. Sometimes it’s composition, sometimes it’s exposure, sometimes it subject, and sometimes it’s editing and post-processing. This is one of a few images that I’ve “remastered” and I enjoy it. I like seeing the improvements I can make to something that I already felt was complete. I like enhancing something with the skills that I’ve learned over time. I like pulling a better image out of an existing one.
I definitely think there will be more to come.