4 Reasons to Go Back and Re-Process Older Raw Files | Light Stalking

4 Reasons to Go Back and Re-Process Older Raw Files

As photographers, we eagerly plan mornings, weekends, day trips and vacations around being out in the field. When we get back to our computers, many of us are downloading our files shortly after walking through the door. Then it's moments of “Yes!”, “Sighs” and a few colorful words thrown in when that one that you really wanted was an “almost”.
As exciting as it is to process our new little gems, it can be almost as rewarding to go back into our older files and look at them with a fresh set of eyes. Here's four reasons to go back in time.

1. The Forgotten Photos are Waiting

Just this weekend I went back to view photos from 2014 to free up some space. I uncovered some files that didn't get a lot of attention when they were downloaded. The image of the Scarlet Macaw below caught my attention. I'm not quite sure of the reason it was passed over. Maybe because it was on a photo trip where there were over initially 3000 photos to select from and then process?

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2. Diamonds in the Rough

Sometimes there are photos that you can't delete for a variety of reasons. A) Exposure bracketing (see article on Exposure Bracketing) was used which meant many photos may have been put into the ‘later' list for merging and processing. B) The color photo had potential but it didn't wow you…yet. Check out 4 Quick Methods to Convert Your Photo to Black & White and C) There were other photos that you were more interested in at the time.
Using ‘B' above as an example, I found a color photo that I converted to Black and White. This was a photo taken at sunset on Lake Michigan. The colors were soft, the water smooth and the rocks had a subtle shimmer. In color, it was a nice photo. When I processed it in black and white a richer dimension was added.

3. New Processing Skills/New Software Features

As our photography techniques evolve, so do our post-processing skills, techniques and habits. Today, Lightroom's local adjustment tools – Radial Filter, Graduated Filter and the Adjustment Brush for targeting specific areas are used on a more regular basis than a year ago. I also started using Photoshop CC in early 2015. The power of working with Layers and Photoshop's plethora of refined editing capabilities have been applied in older photos.
Additionally, software such as Lightroom CC adds new features and enhances existing ones. Going back in Lightroom and selecting Reset (at the top of all the enhancements so I preserve my work if I want to revert back) provides the opportunity to work from the ground up with new and/or refined skills and program features.

4. Discarding and Freeing Up Space

The idea for writing this article came from revisiting 2014 files to discard unused and unwanted photos. I was looking for images that I'd never touch due to quality, composition, etc. The longer time goes by, the easier it is to discard older photos.
However, each time I go back to old files on my hard drive or those stored on my external drive, I find a few that I really like and process. For information on backing up the cloud using for extra protection refer to Protecting Your Work for a strategy on backing up your photos.
The next time you don't have any new images to work on, take a trip down memory lane. What you find may inspire you!

About the author

Sheen Watkins

Sheen Watkins is a conservationist, wildlife photographer, instructor, author and photography writer. You can follow her photography on Facebook, Instagram and her website.


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