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Revisiting your (photographic) past

June 16, 2013

I love Old San Juan – it is the kind of place I could spend hours in just taking pictures. I’ve been there only twice – once as part of a Puerto Rico vacation with my wife, and the second as a rather rushed (and hot) cruise ship port with my whole family.  As I’ve been playing around with Topaz Clarity the past couple of weeks, I went back looking for some photos to experiment with.  My photos from San Juan were a great place to start, because 1) I took a lot of photos; and 2) Even bad photos of Old San Juan look better than good photos of many other places.

I take hundreds of pictures, pick the ones I like best, and leave the rest behind.  I eliminate the photos that are just plain bad – out of focus, blurry, obscured, etc. -but most of the others just don’t catch my eye. I keep them but typically don’t do much with them.  However, looking back at some of them, I see opportunity – some adjustment here, some edits there, maybe a little cropping.  Maybe I simply overlooked the original, or maybe as I gain experience with my digital toolkit I better understand how I can improve a given photo.

This photo is the Puerto Rico Capitol building – El Capitolio de Puerto Rico.  I took it from the cruise ship as we were leaving port, thinking how much I liked the architecture of the building. The haze, the distracting buildings in the front and the flat color all made the original a very unexciting shot.  A little cropping and applying Topaz Clarity really made it stand out for me. I’ve had a mixed experience with Clarity. For some shots I don’t really like the result, but when it works, I really like the results.

Nikon D90

Original
Nikon D90

Processed shot

Processed

The buildings in Old San Juan are beautiful (it is unfortunate that so many of them have been converted into the typical jewelry and clothing outlets so common in the cruise ports).  This was one of those situations where the beauty I saw in person didn’t translate into the picture I took (a problem that, frankly, is all too common for me).  Aggressively cropping this with a focus on the lights, a bit of blurring of the buildings in the background, and some increased detail and saturation gave me a result I was much happier with.

Nikon D90

Original
Nikon D90

Processed

Processed

This is a shot of one of the many garitas in Old San Juan. This was another photo that took to Topaz Clarity very well.

Nikon D90 - Original

Original
Nikon D90

Processed

Processed

A good reason to not be too aggressive in pruning your photos – you might go back and find you can make something of the neglected ones!

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From → Photography

3 Comments
  1. Julie permalink

    You make a good point about being judicious in culling your images. I appreciate seeing your before/after shots and hearing how you accomplished the edits. I particularly like the results on the last image of the tower.

    Like

  2. Graphical editing software can make all the difference in the work between a snapshot and a polished photograph. You’ve got a good camera with the D90 as I owned both that camera and the 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6 VRII lens. I still own the lens and use it on my upgrade to the D7000. I’ve marked your blog as a favorite and am now one of your first followers. I’ll check on your blog site often. Be well! – Bob

    Like

    • Thanks Julie for the comments on the garita. I love taking pictures of those!
      Bob – I have that same lens and I love not having to change lenses. I’ve marked your to follow as well.

      Like

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