Re-working old files

With all of the time that I have spent recently trying to get used to the beta versions of Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Camera RAW 7 I have been having quite a few conversations on forums and over email with others going through the same process. One conversation led me to think about even older versions of the software and how I used them and in turn that got thinking about finding an old CR2 two file that I was never truly happy with and having another go with the up-to-date version of ACR. Without looking at the original “finished” JPEG I grabbed a CR2 file from 2008 that I remember being unhappy with and gave it “the treatment”.

©Neil Turner/TSL. May 2008 - RAW file straight out of the camera

©Neil Turner/TSL. May 2008. RAW file Converted with using .xmp settings from 2008 in Photoshop CS5

©Neil Turner/TSL. May 2008. RAW converted today using ACR 7 in Photoshop CS6 Beta

Whilst I was doing the conversion it became obvious to me that I wasn’t really comparing versions of the software – it was that my taste in the way images look has changed. I have no doubt that knowing far more about converting RAW files than I did four years ago helps enormously. You can also factor in the improvements in the adjustment tools available as well but the sum total of all of that means that the newer version is far more subtle and (in my eyes) far better. I made use of the fill-light and the graduated filters. I used a much warmer white balance and my approach to both noise reduction and sharpening has moved on too – although you’d never notice that from these 620 pixel samples.

So there we go. If it wasn’t blindingly obvious before, it is now. RAW conversions depend on a mixture of software and taste and this little experiment has proved to me that my tastes have changed and so, therefore, must the tastes of other people. The final conclusion has to be that every time you create a new folio, make changes to your website or supply a picture you have to make a choice between re-working the files to bring everything up to they way you like things now or leave well alone and allow your images to be “of their time”. Fat chance of the latter happening here…

6 comments

  1. I have to say the quality from digital cameras now is mind blowing. The stuff i’m shooting on my 5d mark iii now blows the pants of anything i have shot previously. It kind of makes me want to tub all my previous work and upload everything from the new camera to the website. Personally i think your first conversion looks better Neil. I’m doing the opposite of yourself at the moment, shifting from warmer images to ‘cleaner’ white balanced images.

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    1. Thanks Lee – I think that we all shift our tastes around as we experiment with creative control. Interestingly, I have since done a further conversion using Capture One Pro and it is different again. I seem to have become fascinated with shadow details that I used to completely ignore and I have developed a small phobia about too much magenta in my files. You are right about the 5D MkII – it is an amazing camera and Canon have struggled to better it significantly with the MkIII in terms of image quality at “normal” ISOs.

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