Ten years ago, the family and I took a whirlwind trip out west. I took lots of photos but never really did anything with them. . . Of course, they are priceless in terms of documenting our trip and showing that were actually there; but as for photographs, they are just . . . okay. I decided to a pull a few from the archives to see if today’s software could make them more than just marginal.
The camera for this trip was a Kodak DC 4800 with it’s whopping 3.1 megapixels, and I’m pretty sure I shot on Auto. . . back then I just didn’t know any better.
Image 1: Somewhere near Sedona, Az.
The After: You can really see a difference when you click on the images and make them larger. Just don’t make it too big; I guess there is only so much today’s programs can do. But who knows, in another 10 years . . . I will hopefully get the opportunity to try again with the knowledge and camera equipment I have today and no pixel pushing required 🙂
The Process: I started in Lightroom. I always like to start there, starting with the basics: Some sharpening, noise reduction (was a must!), pretty simple. Then off to Photoshop. Here I use my plug-ins (yes, I know I can use them in LR; it’s just a preference of mine to work with them in PS). First up, Topaz Clarity. I am loving this one. Since I don’t really speak the techie-language, I’m not even going to try, I just know I can get the result I want by starting with a preset and then tweaking the sliders. I’m off to a good start, but there is still all that noise and then some. I had Topaz’s Denoise, not sure where it went. So I went to Nik Define2. I like that I can apply it just to the area I want (the sky) by using a brush and bonus the Nik software in PS creates a layer to work from, so I make adjustments later if I need to. Still, not quite there yet, I wanted some more detail but wanted to keep all that noise I worked so hard at getting rid of at bay. After clicking around Topaz Adjust and Nik Color Efex and not really finding what I was looking for, I opted for Nik Sharperner. I have two options here RAW presharpener and Output sharpener. Now, I know I should probably look up what each one really does and why, and maybe someday I will, but let’s face it, I’m a clicker. If I click on something and it gives me what I want, that’s good enough for me. I went with the RAW, which makes absolutely no sense given I was working with a low quality, low resolution, JPEG, but it did what I was looking for, what more can I ask.
In the end, other than the pushing of all those pixels resulting in a hot pixel showing up here and there (cloned out) and the fact that printing this large will never be an option, at least not a good one, I think this was an exercise well worth the effort. Are they now perfect? Not by a long shot. Are there other ways to achieve these results, if not even better one’s? You bet there are. But for now, I relived some memories, taught myself a thing or two, and I learned a bit more about what the software I have can do, and that is pretty darn satisfying.
Here’s another one resurrected from the trip. This is Coral Sand Dunes National Park in Utah, near Zion. I kept pretty much to the same processing. . .
’til next time,