Revisiting Old Images

Unless I forget to remove the lens cap, I rarely delete and simply archive. I would like to believe that I’m a better photographer than I was 2 years ago. I see things differently and how I approach creating new images is forever changing.

With all that file clutter just taking up space, it’s an interesting exercise to look back and compare what I had originally thought was good and/or bad. It’s also interesting to see how opinions have changed.

It feels like forever and a day since we were in Iceland but when I saw an image of Dettifoss this week, I went back to my archived library to see what I had originally passed over as rejects. I remembered being there but I had also remembered coming back without anything interesting to print.

This is what I found. A relatively flat mid-day image of Europe’s most powerful waterfall. It surely doesn’t have the same impact as did standing there inches from the rushing water.

Dettifoss, Iceland

Dettifoss, Iceland

50% of my visualization is through trial and error. Should it be cropped? Does it need more or less contrast? Would I prefer this or would I prefer that?

Once I identified what I did not like about this image, I removed the colour, darkened the sky and ended up with two different images. One was be the original 8×12 but the other a perfect square. Both with very different perspectives of the location.

So I asked the question on Facebook which image was preferred and I feel like I got an equal mix right down the middle. You can see everyone’s comments here, here, and here. Art doesn’t get more subjective than this and how one connects with an image varies wildly.

Some prefer the feeling of standing there looking over the edge into the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river while others much prefer 1:1 and removing the triangle shaped distractions.

There is no answer and I still do not know which one I prefer.

Dettifoss, Iceland

Dettifoss, Iceland

Dettifoss, Iceland

Dettifoss, Iceland

About the Author

I am a designer, artist and photographer living in PEI and the co-creator of the Photographer's Guide to Prince Edward Island. I have helped design this website and the many oopoomoo ebooks. Stop by and say hi on Facebook.

10 Comments

  1. Coletta Perry
    November 25, 2014

    Just discovered your site as I was looking for winter photography tips as I prepare for my first real winter vacation to Yellowstone. It’s inspirational and thought-provoking. I’m looking forward to treating myself to some of your ebooks over the holidays.

    This post couldn’t be more perfectly timed for me. Just yesterday I post-processed a very disappointing image that totally changed the character of the original. And I found myself contemplating whether it is “cheating” to tease out what was in my mind’s eye when the photographic results fall short of what I imagined.

    Thanks for demonstrating that the entire toolbox available to us are part-and-parcel of the artist’s palette and fair game for achieving one’s artistic vision!

    Reply
    • Larry Citra
      November 25, 2014

      Yellowstone in winter – really good gloves/mitts are essential to a good experience, I would suggest/urge mitts from the Heat Company! They are simply the best, not cheap, but the best!

      As for “cheating”, we are artist, we do not cheat, we creat …….. Reality has little to do with it, unless you are a photojournalist.

      Have a GREAT trip!

    • Coletta Perry
      November 25, 2014

      Larry, Thanks for the tip on the gloves! You are so right about the difference between artist and photojournalist — a great distinction. Thanks for both comments.

  2. Florian
    November 25, 2014

    Hello,
    I think the first photograph is not the same as the two versions below in one important aspect: the dark patch of stones in the river, just above the triangular rock in the foreground. It has been removed in the two versions below. Even before I saw the different versions I thought that I would have removed the rock in the foreground and really liked the stones in the river … what a pity that they are gone 🙂

    Florian.

    Reply
  3. Cindy
    November 25, 2014

    Thanks Stephen. An excellent reminder and demonstration. I agree that we delete too quickly sometimes. As a huge enthusiast, I have also revisited photos from last year and found some images that, when tweaked, are much more interesting that I previously thought.

    Reply
  4. David
    November 25, 2014

    Definitely the square version. It highlights the tumble of rocks in the left foreground and balances the composition. I love it!

    Reply
  5. Johnny
    November 25, 2014

    Hello Stephen,

    Converting to black and white made all the difference. I prefer the standing one, though only by a little.

    Reply
  6. Marty Prentice
    November 25, 2014

    Darwin: Not following you on Facebook, this is my first opportunity to comment. I prefer the former image of Detifoss with the “triangle” in the foreground; for me, it best provides a depth perspective and an artistic sense of being. Incidentally, when we were there 2 years ago, we just viewed Dentifoss from the other side of the river; from that perspective, you could really sense the strength and volume of the waterfall (noise, vibration and mist) but could not appreciate its overall size.

    Cheers, Marty

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      December 11, 2014

      Marty, Stephen took the photos in this blog post, not me!

  7. Gary Tozer
    November 25, 2014

    Stephen
    Great article, love the B&W conversion and personally, I think the square crop is a better representation of the falls and river by removing the distracting foreground. Just my opinion. Keep up the great work.

    Reply

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