Retouching Something Old into Something New

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: November 3, 2011

Category: General

Hi Folks,
Today I have a question for you…Do you ever go back and re-edit some of your images?

The reason I ask is that having watched an episode of The Grid this week hosted by Scott Kelby and RC Concepcion, I felt compelled to take a long hard look through my portfolio; something I try to do on a regular basis anyway to keep it fresh. The topic of conversation at one point evolved around showing your portfolio on your iPad to help attract clients because of how well it displays your images, and although that’s not what this post is about, it kind of is; let me explain…

You see, in my portfolio one particular image has always bugged me. I’ve always felt unsure whether or not I should include it and I guess just by saying that you wouldn’t have been wrong to ask… “Why did you?”.

It’s not that I didn’t like the image because I did, it was more a case of  I always felt I could do more with it…the question though was what?

Anyway getting back to The Grid, having watched the episode I decided to revisit the image, dig out it’s original RAW file and edit it for a second time; the first time having been some months back now…

With regards to the editing this time round I started off how I normally do…

  • RAW Conversion
  • Tidying Up (Removing Dust Spots etc)
  • Brightening & Colouring the Eyes
  • Enhancing Details
  • Skin Contrast
  • Dodging & Burning
  • Body Shaping

However, different this time to when I first edited the image was the background that I added in and then what I did in the ‘Play Time’ … something Photographer & Digital Artist Calvin Hollywood refers to as 80/20. Basically this is the point at which I experiment with techniques to achieve overall look and feel of the image; where the last 20% of the edit takes 80% of the time.

Anyway I’m now at the point where I’m happy with how it looks; it’s a personal thing but I now feel that the look and feel of the image is finally where I want it to be.

So why didn’t I do this the first time? Well to be honest, I’ve no idea but what I do know is how important it is not to rush your editing. Of course it’s not practical to leave a whole load of images for weeks before you work on them, and that’s not what I mean here, but rather something I’ve mentioned before and that’s not to sit at the computer for hours at a time working your way through a number of edits.

I’ll always remember the advice I was given by Photographer and Instructor Matt Kloskowski, and which was reinforced by Calvin Hollywood, and that was to take regular breaks from your editing. Leave an image and come back to it some time later after a cup of coffee or even the next day because then you’ll see it with fresh eyes and will instantly see what, if anything more you need to do.

So what about yourself, do you ever go back and re-edit some of your images?

It would be great to hear back how some of you approach your editing; whether you take regular breaks or just go at it until finished. After a shoot do you backup the image files and then leave them until the next day without looking or are you the kind of person that gets back straight after a shoot and edits whilst it’s fresh in your mind? As always feel free to make use of the comments section below but in the mean time,

Enjoy 🙂

•     •     •

Keep up with Glyn ‘Day to Day’ and get more from ‘Behind the Scenes’…
500px (Portfolio)

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  1. James Hole

    Most of my sessions are in the evening, so I always rush back get the images into Bridge to have a look through them. Then pick one to have a play with, but it usually turns out that the ones I pick the same evening are never the ones I chose when I come back to them the next day. Tiredness and rushing I guess!

  2. Nikki

    I really like the edits you’ve done to this photo, Glyn. I like to ponder, so it takes me awhile to decide how to edit a photo (plus there are so many options!). So I will do some edits, but come back later and maybe change my mind :-)).

  3. A.J. Wood

    I was just telling my students something similar in this week’s lecture regarding regular breaks. The average person can only focus for about 45 minutes so regular breaks are necessary to maintain productivity.

    To get out of your regular editing routine, I encourage my students to go through tutorials they would otherwise ignore. Gives you a fresh perspective on using Photoshop outside your comfort zone.

  4. Mira

    very nice pictures

  5. DaveT

    The first thing I do is make an initial cut in Lightroom where I delete the obvious duds and then I make backups of those that I intend to keep and rename them.
    I don’t do any developing of images till after this stage (it’s a self imposed discipline thing). Afterwards, I tend to start editing those images that immediately grab me, and then if the mood grabs me, I do some of the others.

    I should say that I have learnt not to keep only the very best images and delete the others. The reason is that as software improves and my understanding of how to develop those images improves, I know that I can revisit RAW files and get more out of them than I initially thought. I did this very recently when I went back to a RAW file I shot five years ago and was able to produce an image that I was really happy with – yet all that time ago I had wondered whether to throw it away.

    It all depends how I feel as to whether I invest heavily in the time taken to edit. I am not shooting for clients these days so there is no real time constraint to deliver within a time frame.

    I agree that stepping away from the image is a good idea – often I look at the image the following day and decide that I have done too much. The beauty of the adjustment brushes in Lightroom is that I can select the pin and adjust accordingly, all without spending too much time. I also make virtual copies a lot so that I can compare one processed image with another; it’s such a great feature.


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