Remastering Stock Photos

Photography in the Cimarron Mountains of Colorado
Courthouse Mountain in the Cimarron Mountains of Colorado.

One of my hunkering down photography projects has been to revisit the edits of some of my stock images.

I have a few photos that I’ve submitted to stock agencies that contained bald blue skies. Every now and again I’ll sell one, but honestly, they aren’t my favorite shots. I’ll often return to a location of a previous blue sky and try to get a newer moe-betta photo with some type of clouds. Good clouds can make or break a photo.

The new Photoshop feature that allows you to replace skies in photos works fairly well, but it isn’t always perfect and on some types of shots it doesn’t really work that well at all.

Today’s photo is a shot I took late in the day in the Autumn of 2019 at a place called Debs’s Meadow, East of Ridgway in the Cimarron Mountains of Colorado. I’ve visited this location many times over the years and I’ve never really got the perfect shot there (by my standards.)

Deb’s Meadow was a shooting location for the 1969 John Wayne movie True Grit. The famous climactic scene where John Wayne and Robert Duvall were having their shootout from horseback was filmed on this spot. If you watch the movie, you can see Courthouse Mountain and that big rock in the field in the film as they lineup on their horses and charge each other with guns blazing.

The original version of my photo here was a clear blue sky at sunset. It looked okay but I never really liked the final editing result, so I replaced the sky with a photo of dramatic clouds I had taken for this very purpose. The end result is a shot that looks much more appealing, at least to my eyes.

As for replacing skies in photos, there are some photographers out there who don’t do it, there are more that do. I’d bet money that a lot of the dramatic landscape scenes you see on the internet are heavily edited and sky replacement is a common post processing technique. Personally, I don’t mind doing it so long as the result looks convincing and I don’t begrudge any photographer who edits their photographs to their own personal taste. Art is art. It’s the end result that matters, not the delusional belief in the nobility of which method was used to get to the final result.

Here’s the original image, with no editing. You be the judge. Which one do you think looks better?

Cimarron Mountains, Colorado Landscapes
Debs Meadow without editing.

I like the added clouds.