This is a story that shows that revisiting old
raw files can help to find lost treasures.
Here is a photo from a memorable morning. We arrived at our
destination at 6am (still dark) to hit a trail and photograph
the "Delicate Arch" in the Arches National Park at sunrise. After
we put on the headlights Uwe swings his backpack onto his back.
was interrupted by a cruel sound: a Canon 1Ds with a mounted 70-200mm
f/2.8 IS and a 1.4x tele adapter hit the concrete ground of the
parking lot (Uwe did not zip his backpack after getting the headlights).
verified that the 1Ds still functioned but the 70-200mm lens
showed contact problems.
Clearly the 70-200mm would be our lens of choice that morning.
All we had left was the trusty Canon 24-70mm f/2.8. Bettina did
some shots of the moonset at our destination. This photo seemed
for us a lost cause for quite some time if we looked at it with
the default settings in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw):
Flat and uninspiring image
ACR default settings
Recently we revisited old photos
(browsing about 10,000 raw files) and paid a bit more attention
to this photo and gave it a chance. There are a couple of reasons
why actually RAW files improve over time:
- RAW converters get better
- Your own imaging experience improves
- Your artistic vision changes
- Don't trust the first preview!
Improved ACR settings
Tuned ACR values
Working on the ACR Exposure, Shadows,
Brightness and Contrast settings managed to bring this photo
to life. If you use ACR please use all four sliders for your
The next major step was cropping
to make it a more panoramic picture:
Crops make a difference
Still the the boring sky is an
issue. But an overlay with a gray gradient (blending mode "darken"
and some opacity tweaking) solved this problem. After a final
sharpening with EasyS we got this photo:
We are not sure whether this photo
needs to be a bit brighter or not. But overall we think this
now a winner shot.
The only downside: Viewing this
image rings the terrible sound of a 1Ds crashing onto
concrete in our ears. But maybe this photo is even worth it :-).
trust the first preview!
Here is a different image that looks very boring with default
settings and yet is one of our top photos of 2003:
View in Death Valley