Architectural and aerial photographer located in Richmond, VA.

Reprocessing an old image

During the COVID-19 social distancing, I have been looking back at my old shoots to review how I have (hopefully) grown. I, of course, started with my first shoot. There were many successes and failures that night.

Success: The sky

My biggest success of the night was using newly created product, GetOutCast, to forecast one of the most brilliant sunsets I have ever witnessed.  I struggled to take photographs as I was so enamored with the kaleidoscope in the sky.

Failure: The post processing

My biggest failure, that sticks with me more than the success, is how horrific the photographs I delivered were. This is how not to do HDR. Why did I think this was good? 

I wondered, how might that night have turned out if I knew what I know today?

While I cannot go back in time and take entirely new photographs, I still have all the original images. What would one of the photographs look like if I when through my post-processing routine today? 

Second Attempt (2020)

I was curious how this would turn out if I went through my post process workflow today. I started by merging the same images into an HDR image in Photomatix (just as I did in 2013).

Source Images

HDR 2013 vs 2020

The biggest difference between the two is the contrast.  In 2013, I believe was so enamored with the patterns the light played on the ground that I boosted the contrast to the extreme to accentuate it.  It came with consequences (besides calling into question my taste). Most notably is how the reminder of every vehicle to ever drive by etched in rubber stands out in the foreground. Although, they do act somewhat like a natural vignette. Those memories do not disappear in the 2020 version, but aren't as much of a distraction.

Color correction

The first thing I did was adjust the color balance to be more neutral. I prefer a more neutral color as it matches my brain's perception of what I saw (as it automatically removes the yellow color cast).  Additionally, I slightly bumped the clarity.

Interior Cleanup

Next, I disliked how much was going on within the interior of the building.  Its not the focus of this photo.   I used my favorite tool in Capture One, designed for fashion photographers to smooth skin, and applied it to the blue the windows cast into the interior as well as the wood detail.  This smoothed out the hue, saturation, and lightness making the interior less noticeable.

Vegetation Highlight

The highlight to this space is the play between the vegetation and the lighting.  The lighting already had a lot of attention naturally by being the brightest areas of the photograph.  The lit portions of the vegetation weren't a match, so I gave them a boost.

The details

The last significant step is cleaning up all the rubber memories and other imperfections that happen over time.  I used Photoshop to remove fallen leaves, stray rocks and imperfections to the pavers.  Next, I painstakingly removed the each of tire marks. Last, and most importantly, I used DxO's ViewPoint to fix my verticals.

Final Version (2020)

I ended up cropping the image slightly differently this time around. Most of the right side of the original photograph does not add anything.  That additional building is unnecessary as are the additional posts (particularly the tilted post, a permanent reminder to someone of their stellar driving).

I cannot help but laugh that this is only the second time I have ever used the backup of my original photographs.  I don't even want to think about how much I have spent over the years for all this backup storage. This makes this 2020 image the most expensive photograph I have ever created.

Final Version (2013)

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