A student recently sent me this picture, saying that unfortunately, she could not use it as homework because of the low quality:
It was a small (700 pixels height) picture. Blurred, low contrast, and inaccurate colour. So she has a point: not great, though an excellent moment.
But wait. If I put that picture into Lightroom (just drag it onto a grid view), I can use the “Develop” module to fix exposure, white balance, sharpness, highlights, blacks, contrast, and not to forget clarity (presence). Would that help?
It certainly would:
Much better, and now suddenly it is a useable picture.
I suppose the take-away is this. First, of course, that Lightroom is easy to use and powerful. Second, that even “bad” pictures can often be fixed later, especially when small sized, like for use on the web. We often inspect too closely: usually, even a bad picture today can easily beat any picture made from a negative in 1980.
From all this, a few things follow. Namely:
- Do not delete bad pictures: you may find a use with them anyway, if not now, then maybe tomorrow, with new digital processing techniques.
- If a picture is bad, try making it smaller. Imperfections are less noticeable in smaller size photos.
- Try alternates. Black and white, for instance. Or shift colours. And so on: often, these things can bring out the quality in a photo.
- Use parts. Crop off the bad part, or selectively sharpen the important parts.
- Learn to use Lightroom (see yesterday’s post).
- Above all: do not give up on a picture too soon.
The improvements I made to the above picture were from a small picture. Imagine what I could have done with the original sized picture: I am sure it would have been even better.
A bad picture of a great moment may still be worth it. But often, you can make that bad picture into at least an acceptable picture.
A fun exercise is this: go through your old photos, those of five years ago, and see what the processing techniques since then can do with them. You will often be surprised.
Do consider coming to my Lightroom seminars in a few weeks. See the post immediately below this one.