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Don’t Throw Those Dud Photos Away Just Yet!

Looking Out Into The Evening – Original (Glacier National Park, Montana)

I was wandering through my Glacier National Park photo archives, looking for a particular shot, when I spied an original, unedited image I’d not touched. I remember exactly where I was when this shot was captured. I stood at the Wild Goose Island view area at St. Mary Lake, and turned to the side to photograph the scene there as the sunset afterglow turned the sky and clouds into a bright, fiery display.

You can tell that from this photo above, right?

It was the very first photo workshop I’d ever attended, back in 2008. I’d just purchased my first full frame camera: a Canon 5D with 12 huge, magnificent megapixels. I was still learning how to use it because I’d never heard the advice about knowing how to use your camera before you set off on a photo adventure. I pretty much knew zilch, to be honest (although I learned so much from that one workshop). Oh, I was not a newbie to photography; I’d photographed with SLR cameras since high school, but always using that Auto mode. I never really used the Manual mode in depth until I purchased that full framer. And, as you can see, I failed miserably at capturing that evening vista. The ISO was 100, shutter speed was 1/100 of a second, and the aperture was f/4 (although I think that was the widest aperture I could get with that particular lens, having never heard of a “fast lens” before). I can’t remember if the camera was on a tripod or not, although I might have been handholding it – the ostensible reason for using such a fast shutter speed.

You’ve read this from me before: the camera always has the data, it just needs to be brought forth with proper editing. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to not throw this original image away, which is surprising. Probably I just saw it, didn’t know how to work it, and just moved on to the next shot on the memory card. Hell, I was still trying to wrap myself around this new program called Adobe Elements – I had not even graduated to Adobe Photoshop yet.

Now, segue to 2022. I returned to the archives and picked up this original to start working on it for yucks and giggles.

Looking Out Into The Evening – Revised Image (Glacier National Park, Montana)

Quite the difference, huh?

Oh, I wouldn’t try to make a print out of this shot, because it’s still pretty grainy even after using noise reduction to the scene. But it definitely looks like the view I witnessed, with the fiery sky and the inner glow to the landscape as the evening settled in.

This, folks, is a great example of why you should NEVER immediately throw out a shot you think is a dud the first time you look at it. Unless it’s totally blurred or unfocused, there is always the chance that image can be rescued. It might take a few weeks or a few years or even a decade of learning new editing skills before you touch that “dud” image, but as you can see here, the beauty of that evening has been teased out for all to view.

Twelve megapixels back then was quite a feat. Now, I work with cameras possessing between 50 – 102 megapixels. Like editing skills, camera technology has come a long way in 14 years.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, National Parks, Photography