Finding Lightroom Gold: Having a fresh Vision on 10 year old pictures made with a 10 year old camera

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[I] always like to suggest photographers to revisit their old pictures to see if they can find some good photographs there. Well I was just digging up some old photographs of myself (I felt like having a crack at my old pictures, where I used to work hard at looking cool) when I stumbled upon these 2004 era pictures of Vietnam and Cambodia I took. They were out of sight, victims of my inattention when I was creating my filing system. The best part is, when I took these pictures, I never considered, hoped, dreamed to be a photographer. Here's some insights I gained from the experience so that you can apply it for your own stuff too!

A 10 year old camera that rocks

My camera philosophy is simple: Less is more and every camera is good enough. When I say this, I'm usually talking about modern cameras, and man are they good enough! Imagine my surprise when I found perfectly usable photographs from a 10 year old Sony DSC-P92. A consumer point and shoot with a wooping 5 megapixels. I had to Google it to see what it looked like. It would be unfair to compare it to modern imaging capabilities, but I must say that I am impressed at the technology available at that time in the average camera. Good exposure, good dynamic range, reasonably sharp, etc.

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Having Vision on past photographs
The big question is, can you have Vision after so much time has passed (10 years for me!), the answer is YES! It's a simple process really, look at the past photographs and try to relive the moment, and this time look at it with fresh, new eyes. Reliving the moment is to awaken your photographer's heart, to feel what you felt, and then see the photograph with all that you have learned about photography, your sense of composition and all.

Guess who? Did I say I wanted to look cool 24-7?
Guess who? Did I say I wanted to look cool 24-7?

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When I looked at my old photographs, I immediately put myself back 10 years ago, the smell of Vietnam, how I felt at home…..yes I remember….kebabs with spiders that I didn't have the guts to taste….the nice countryside, the feeling of belonging….yes, yes I remember! After my heart was in Vietnam mode, I simply started editing as if I took the picture today. Selected those I would take today, edit them the way I do today (with Street Presets), still feeling the way I did 10 years ago.

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Hints of current photography?
While looking at the photos, I wondered if I could find some hints at how I currently shoot. Many know Bruce Lee, but many do not know that he was a child actor, and when you look at his acting as a child, you can see hints of his adult acting, even his fight moves. I have found this is also true for photography. The street scenes, the documentary aspect, skies, people. I found it interesting that when I got my first DSLR years later, all the stuff I used to shoot from the heart was absent. I think I believed since I had a DSLR I had to shoot what was expected or something……

It's a great exercise in soul searching, you should try it. It tells you you are on the right track. I lost my ways in photography once, so it's good to see a link between what I shoot now and what I shot then. I shot the pictures of Vietnam in a pure way, not knowing anything about leading the eye, contrast, light direction…..I wasn't thinking about anybody else looking at my photos, just me enjoying them. I'm glad I found these pictures because they tell me I'm not lying to myself, what I used to shoot without people looking at my stuff is now what I shoot with people looking at it.

As shot 10 years ago
As shot 10 years ago
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I still can't believe these tones? I'm in love

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I am not saying your Vision can't change, only your own soul searching can guide you by looking at your past. It's only after you look where you've been that you can know where you are going. Try looking at your ultra old photographs and revisit them. I feel so much more confident in my photography after I did, try it!

My Never delete policy
I have this policy, it's called never delete, and it's all about….never deleting any pictures. I found gold nuggets after gold nuggets after gold nuggets because I never deleted my photos. It's heavy on the hard drive but it's totally worth it. I would have deleted some of these pictures and many more if I didn't have that policy. I can't run the risk of deleting my photos when I know that looking back I might see something I never saw or that Adobe might work a miracle deblurring photos or something.

Can you believe these tones?
Can you believe these tones?

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On Cameras
If there is one side lesson to be drawn from this revisit of old photographs, it's that any camera is good enough. These pictures were made with a Dinosaur of a digital consumer camera and look at the output! I'm blown away by the tones that can be drawn with such old cameras! Nailing your exposure pretty much does the trick.

Your turn
I really encourage you going back a few years looking at your past work, I do from time to time, but finding forgotten work is even better! It doesn't have to be a whole series like mine, but I know by experience that there is always a picture or two that is forgotten in between folders that might be gold. If you find anything interesting, please feel free to paste a picture in the comments! Be yourself, stay focused an keep on shooting.

About The Author

11 thoughts on “Finding Lightroom Gold: Having a fresh Vision on 10 year old pictures made with a 10 year old camera”

  1. I’m a ruthless editor and a lot winds up in the trash. Then again, being a photo editor was my job for two years. Not a photoshopper, a real editor.

    I have an old 5MP olympus C5050 I still drag out every now and then. The color can be ethereal on that camera. And with current software, my old Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n just sings. The camera was brilliant in 2005, and it still is.

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  4. Great post. GAS is hard to pass (sorry!) The best camera is the one you have with you when the photo presents itself…I’ve even taken pictures with an ‘imaginary camera’ (hold fingers in crop position, say ‘click’; there you are. Too bad you can’t share it.) Which is to say, better to pass GAS than to share it!!!

  5. Nick, Shrewsbury

    Some really nice images there – I’m not convinced that my current images will repay an investment of work so well in 10 years’ time. Congratulations on being able to see the potential in the 10-year-old raw material. You have clearly developed really good PP skills by
    now!

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  7. It’s why I don’t sell my Leica D-Lux 4. It does a little of everything, has a zoom that goes wide, a very small sensor, is pocketable, and has a tack sharp lens. I love that camera.

  8. Lovely pics. You are right, The sensor is in our brains, the lenses are our eyes … only one more little thing to make this works: Our right hand index finger

  9. I don’t want to be a jerk Olivier, but you might need to consider that there’s a possibility you’re addicted to contrast as a means of “making” the image. There were quite a few images in this article you should have just binned immediately. Do not try and make something out of nothing. Come to terms with the fact that it isn’t solid and move on to the next, using it as a learning experience.

    High contrast != Interesting

    You see the image you labeled “Can you believe these tones?” that’s the only image here that I find having a reasonable sense of contrast and tonal balance. The rest are just pushed to 11 and you need to control that crutch.

    1. Hey man,
      That’s the way I see things, and that will be the way I process things. It’s fine if you don’t like it, even more if you express that you don’t like it (I welcome it!) but I can’t be changing my Vision for you.
      I understand and agree with you point, PP will never create anything, only enhance, but if you can’t see anything more to these photographs than the PP than let me suggest that you look a bit harder.
      Thanks for your input Kediwah 🙂

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