Remastering Old Photographs

Chair Mountain rises above the Crystal River – 2013. Canon EOS 1Ds MK II, EF 24-105mm IS L @ 105mm

I have started a new project that involves my reviewing old photographs and looking at my original post-processing techniques for what I believe could be improved upon.

I recently opened a stock photography account on a new stock photo website and decided that I was only going to upload my best selling images. While examining the original edits on many of the older photos, I realized that I could make some editing improvements on quite a few of them.

Take today’s photo for example. The scene is of Chair Mountain and the Crystal River in the Elk Mountains of Colorado. I made this photograph using a Canon EOS 1Ds Mk II in the autumn of 2013 while on a road trip with my friend Merlin Peck. This particular photo has sold several hundred copies and dozens of prints over the years. I even have a canvas print of it hanging on my family room wall above my fireplace. Not only am I proud of this popular photograph, every time I see it, I’m reminded of my many photography trips with my now deceased friend Merlin. It’s one of my favorites.

But, it was made with an older camera and some of the elements of the original file looked a little bit sub-par compared to the quality of images I’m producing these days with newer, higher resolution cameras and better software. The print I have hanging on my wall looks fantastic. It’s a 20×30 canvas print and it gets comments from just about every visitor. I could have just left it, and many others untouched and simply rode it out the way I originally developed the image.

The thing is, current post processing software does a lot more than what I was using 10 years ago. These days, I can clean up camera noise and sharpen images with software that is heads above what was available in Photoshop & Lightroom back in 2013.

The photo above is one I’ve reprocessed using DXO Photolab 5 and Topaz Sharpen AI to give it a fresh new crispy look. Additionally, I re-edited the tone curves and luminance to give it a little more pop than the original. The difference in the new edit and the old edit is subtle, but all future versions of this image that I sell will be visually superior to the original edit, and my current processing techniques will probably result in more sales of this and other images in the future.

One down, 399 more top sellers to go. I’ve got a lot of photos to remaster.