Do you discard bad images?
Most photographers take many more images that the public or clients will ever see. In some cases it becomes choosing between some ok images, good images, a brand, or just bad images. No photographer regardless of professional or casual will create the perfect image each time the shutter is depressed. But.. what do you do with the not so perfect images? Are you flexible?
Some photographers will outright delete images that he/she feels are bad images. This may be due to focus, exposure, angles, or many other reasons including an artistic dislike of the image. Other people may store the image on a hard drive, never to see the light of an editing program again. Still others may store the images, with plans of 'maybe' coming back to them someday. After all, hopefully we continue to get better at our post production skills, or at least there may be a new action, preset, or program that will help us along at some point in the future.
The image to the left above was a 'scanned image' of a 35 mm print, and not a very good scan at that. The sky is an almost unnatural blue without couds and is very noisy. The rockface as is soft, and the exposure appears way off on the ground. In most respects, this image would be a discard. I had some time available to me so I thought I would experiment a little on this image with some automatic and manual post processing techniques.
My original idea was a puffy cloud bright image. But efforts to make the sky reasonable with a program such as Luminar were not successful (In computer language, garbage in-- garbage out, and the sky was too badly recorded in the scan). There are of course several ways to replace a sky in photoshop, but one of the quickest Sky Replacement technique can be done almost as quickly as with many plug-in programs. Even so, the bright puffy clouds did not seem to work here so I went with a more dramatic sky, and darkened down the image considerably. In this case I used the levels control, but curves would have have worked just as well.
The image still appeared soft despite the typical tool like unsharp, contrast, etc.. in Photoshop. The image was certainly much more dramatic but I also wanted a bit of a crisp look to the photo. I took a chance and first converted it to an 8 bit image with the mode command in photoshop. Next I choose the filters menu and applied a DRY BRUSH effect to the rock face. This gave the image a crisper and almost painterly look.
So I started out with one idea, but I kept an open mind into different possibilities that the image could take. The final image of course looked much different then even the original print image. There are seemingly hundred of plug-ins and presets/actions out there today, many of which are even free or for very little cost. A variety of stand alone programs are also available. Adobe has recently undated several features in Lightroom. Of course there seems to be a never ending supply of Youtube or even commercial tutorials on the web.
The next time you have a 'discard' image, try something that you maybe have not worked with on a regular basis. The results may surprise you!