Old files Will Never Age

Selfridges Department Store II, Birmingham, U.K. Nikon D800 - Nikkor

Selfridges Department Store II, Birmingham, U.K.
Nikon D800 - Nikkor


And they never will as long as we keep those nasty huge .RAW files (in my case, .NEF as I'm a Nikon user). The only price we pay as we keep 'em is storage. Is it worth of? Sure it is. Recently I started to re-discover some captures that I did as far back as 2012 and I got a pleasant surprise: not only all of them were bad, as a matter of fact I discovered two types of files: some of them that had not passed the curation at that given moment and were warmly welcomed to the present porftolio, and in the other hand, some of them that were indeed post processed at that moment, received wether minor tweaks or a completely new post-processing. Let's take about the two examples in more detail.

In the first group we have those that didn't make it. I have to admit is a very pleasant feeling to "re-discover" those old images as they add quantity and quality to our portfolio. Depending on how old they are, when we sit in front of the computer to post-process them feels like we are working in a completely new file that just came from a recent successful photo trip. They also tell something about how we grow up as photographers and curators in the last years, as we are actually seeing something in that image that we have not seen before. Could it be that our filter when it comes to decide which image stays and which one goes does not necessarily get tighter, but somehow different in the sense that we evaluate different aspects of the photograph? This could be one of the reasons we are viewing them from another perspective and we actually find them interesting. In any case, we should travel back in time through our folders and explore our old work to see if we could discover something that was kept aside for a reason we could not remember.



Into The Rabbit Hole - Prague, Czech Republic Nikon D800 - Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Taken in a trip in 2012, not post-processed until one month ago.

Into The Rabbit Hole - Prague, Czech Republic
Nikon D800 - Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

Taken in a trip in 2012, not post-processed until one month ago.


Moskva Underground Nikon D800 - Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D Not processed (as far as I remember) until today!

Moskva Underground
Nikon D800 - Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D

Not processed (as far as I remember) until today!


Sheikh Zayed Road - Dubai, U.A.E. Nikon D800 - Nikkor 50 f/1.8D

Sheikh Zayed Road - Dubai, U.A.E.
Nikon D800 - Nikkor 50 f/1.8D


Then we have the other group: the one that we DID process but when we take a look at them, we sometimes feel something short of absolute repulsion: the reality is that our taste gets refined over the years and it directly affects the way we develop our digital files. I personally overused HDR as it was something "new" that it was worth of trying, plus I had what I think it was a love affair with the "Clarity" slider in Lightroom/ACR that led my images to look unnaturally sharp that you might be led to think that if you touched the screen you could get a paper cut (I'm not kidding, check my old portfolio in  and check it out for yourself. Added to this, how the hardware we own evolves over time affects the way we edit as well, and we get used to its own limitations e.g. reduced dynamic range or easily burned highlights. This selection of images that we bring "back to life" and "back to a present state" really gives us a hint of how we evolved over time.


Selfridges Department Store I, Birmingham, U.K. Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f/3.5-4.5 (DX Lens, no money at that time). The first version of this image was a questionable HDR that looked like if the mall was radioactive!

Selfridges Department Store I, Birmingham, U.K.
Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f/3.5-4.5 (DX Lens, no money at that time).

The first version of this image was a questionable HDR that looked like if the mall was radioactive!


Face Off II - Chigaco, IL. United States of America Nikon D810 - Nikon 24-70 f/2.8G Originally taken in 2014 in Chicago. The original had a color palette of questionable quality.

Face Off II - Chigaco, IL. United States of America
Nikon D810 - Nikon 24-70 f/2.8G

Originally taken in 2014 in Chicago. The original had a color palette of questionable quality.



St Petersburg Nikon D810 - Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8G In the original, the lines were slightly converging, something I've become pretty particular about lately.

St Petersburg
Nikon D810 - Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8G

In the original, the lines were slightly converging, something I've become pretty particular about lately.


Hong Kong Nikon D800 - Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D The original one looked like an HDR, even though it was processed as a single exposure. 

Hong Kong
Nikon D800 - Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D

The original one looked like an HDR, even though it was processed as a single exposure. 


I cannot recommend you enough to wipe the dust off old files and try to apply a filter, curate them and post process them again. Even though if we are "kind of" happy with the original result, just give them another chance. It will serve a double purpose: in one hand it will increase your portfolio, enhance and diversify it, and in the other hand, we will learn about our own progress over the time regarding curating and developing digital files. This last thing will help us focus on our improvements and it will reveal the path that we are taking from now on by evaluating where are we coming from.

So now, tell me, would you re-discover your own captures? If so, which are the best examples that you had?

Leo


Photo Story: Business Bay Morning Fog


Business Bay Morning Fog Nikon D810 - Nikkor 85mm f/1.4

Business Bay Morning Fog
Nikon D810 - Nikkor 85mm f/1.4


One of the key elements to capture an image in a semi-controlled situation (a.k.a., NOT street photography) is planning: this has to do with identifying a general (or particular) subject and research its context in regards to the environment. This has to do with atmospheric conditions and direction of light at a given time (there is an app called (LightTrac which I'll cover in a future post), how populated the area will it be, how traffic will impact on it, time for sunrise and sunset, peak light hours, etc. Every single thing you might think it could affect the outcome of a capture must be thought before taking the final shot. This will give you mental readiness to take the shot, as well as it'll give you time to adapt to unexpected circumstances that might arise.

This image was taken at around 6 a.m. in Dubai during Summer. Dubai is known to be a foggy city during mornings (specially during peak winter and peak summer), which gives place to some climatic scenery. I have been seeing fog during early morning hours for a couple of weeks before taking the shot, so I got my camera batteries charged, mentally selected the lens that I'd be using, got the timings for sunrise and waited for the events to unfold: I had to wait for a complex combination of the fog being not so thick and me getting ridiculously early (or completely avoiding the bed at all). While I'm pleased with the results, I'd wish I was even faster on shooting, as this was one of the final shots: fog had started to dissipate at that moment rendering the scene not so appealing as before.

I do believe that inconformity is what pushes our limits and makes us improve in order to exceed our own proficiency.

Leo