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Re-Developing Old Photos
Everyone once in a while, I’ll run across a discussion of whether photographers will go back and develop one of their photographs. Opinions on the issue run the range. Some people are quite devout in leaving the past alone. Others don’t see any problem going back to change how they processed a photo. Even the ethics of the practice get called into question.
While journalists and others who use photographs as documents have established ethics to determine what changes may be made to a photograph, if any, I fail to see why re-developing an old photograph should matter to anyone who simply views it as an artistic endeavor.
That’s why I didn’t hesitate to change one of my recent photos. Here’s my first development, followed by the one I did this weekend.When I created the first version, I used a high contrast and desaturated process on Ginger. I liked the look on some parts of her. After I spent more time, I found I didn’t like the blown-out appearance of her face and arm. It’s not the first time something like this has happened for me. After living with it a few days, I change my mind. If I were smart, I wouldn’t process and post something the same day. That would give me time to change my mind.
My original plan was to go back and bring out more detail in those highlight areas, but then I fell victim to the original colors. Her skin tone was much warmer than I’d made it, and I decided to go with more vibrant colors instead of less. I even pumped up the shadow behind her.
If I were to look at this photo again in a few weeks, it’s hard to say what I’d do. The only thing I could promise is that it wouldn’t be black & white. Color contrast was the entire purpose of this photo.
As it happens, the sky didn’t fall when I changed my mind. Go ahead, try it. There’s nothing wrong with fixing something that bugs you.