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Revisiting my earliest photos

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

I was re-organizing my Lightroom catalog as I do each January; my catalog is simply too large to have everything on C: drive. While moving 2022 to my Storage drive, I noticed that I was missing a few years in Lightroom but I still had the files on disk. After re-importing them, I was curious what I could do with my current skillset.

I wanted to make sure I chose an image that had good composition but could use a bit of work on the post production end. Long exposures being one of my long-time favorites, I chose the image below from April 30, 2015.

picture from 2015 in  my early days of photography ofthe edmonton legislature building with trails of car's brake lights from long exposure

The trails from the brake lights are well defined. The Legislature building is slightly off center per rule of thirds. The tree in the upper right helps to provide a bit of foreground and create more depth to the image.

However, the exposure is a bit dark. The "No Parking" sign below the tree is very distracting. Since this photo was taken with the tripod on a hill, I had difficulty making sure it was flat and the resulting image is not quite level.

The exposure was very easy to fix. When I was first starting out, I had a self-imposed rule that I wouldn't use any of the automatic features. Perhaps that was beneficial, because it forced me to get familiar with what the various sliders do. These days, I have no qualms about using the "Auto" features in Lightroom at least as a starting point. It produces quite good results and is so much faster.

close up of the tone control in adobe lightroom showing zero adjustments

close up of the tone control in lightroom after Auto adjustment has been applied

When I first started, I didn't use Photoshop at all. These days, I use it almost as much if not more than Lightroom, especially with restoration and colorizing. A little bit of work with the " spot healing" brush tool on the magical "content-aware" mode and the annoying sign is gone. The tool sometimes makes strange artifacts. There are some minor artifacts. However in this case, they blend in naturally with the clouds.

close up of the spot healing brush tool in photoshop

right side of the original image with the no parking sign removed

Back in Lightroom, I still wasn't totally satisfied with the pole on the far right of the frame.

right side of the image with the pole cropped out

I adjusted the cropping ever so slightly and we're done.

final image with adjustments as described in the post

The final image has much better exposure and contrast, particularly in the shadowy parts like the trees. The minor annoyances are also corrected.

I had fun with this and will likely do more. I'm not sure if I'll create a post like this for each image. I will post the before and after on my Facebook page at a minimum.

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