Bringing old photos back to life

July 01, 2013  •  1 Comment

Kurt with a lingcod in Ketchikan, AK, 2005. This photo of a man with an amazing lingcod was taken back in 2005 in Ketchikan, AK. If you read my last blog post, you know that I am a person with paradox. I love old, nostalgic photos in their organic state, and I also love images with modern effects applied to add mood or drama. So I played around with this and another photo from his fishing day back in 2005.

Kurt with a lingcod in Ketchikan, AK, 2005.

I added HDR-like effects to give this photo a gritty feel, emphasized masculinity of the image and added more mood. I intensified clarity, subdued vibrance, added contrast, saturated limited colors in the photo, changed hue, added texture, shifted a temperature to the element and made the fish more prominent. These enhancements were all done in Lightroom 4 in a matter of 15-20 minutes. An old, flat photo is now transformed into a more dramatic image with a character. You can almost smell the salty ocean wind and feel the wet, slippery fish in your hands. This effects may not be for everyone's wall, but I think it makes your photo collections more updated and creative, and can be an effective output for commercial purposes.

Another photo that I updated was a view from the boat:

Obviously, it was taken on a cloudy day, but again, the photo is very flat and not showing the beautiful nature known for Alaska. What I wanted to do with this photo was to apply a simple and realistic enhancements to make the photo look more true to the actual scenery.

Ketchikan, AK

This is the enhanced photo (final).

Enhancing greenery or sky can be tricky if clouds are in the photo. If the enhancement is not isolated, the clouds can end up with color-cast, blown-out highlight and/or shadow with no definition.

Cloud color correctioncloud color correction What I have done with above photo: Processed all basic corrections and enhancements in Adobe Lightroom 4 (including filters and brush), then brought both original and the edited photos into Photoshop CS6, and used a simple masking technique to bring the original sky into the edited photo. The outcome is a realistic image that has more clarity, vibrant colors, textures and depth, and probably more true to the actual scenery that my husband saw than the original photo. What techniques and/or tools do you use the most in your workflow?


Jack Warner(non-registered)
The revisions to the scenic photo are excellent; I've done much the same to some of my New Mexico pictures. To me the final product of Kurt and his fish reminds me of a movie poster.It's very dramatic, for sure.
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