Rewriting History

As I mentioned in the last post, circumstance forced me to upgrade to Lightroom 3 a few days ago.

I’ve been on this “edit and purge dumb images” project the last few weeks and yesterday I was looking at some G9 images shot in low light and intermediate to high ISO’s which for this camera is ISO 400 and up and is not something for which it excels. Suddenly I notice this option at the bottom of the Develop module labeled “Process:” and the dropdown to its right says 2003.




I press the arrows and the option appears for 2010 (current) and like the curious cat, I press it. Viola! The nasty color and luminance noise remarkably disappears and the edge acutance improves dramatically. Suddenly I have a useable image. Continuing this experiment with shots from several different and more sophisticated camera bodies proves that to varying degrees this is true for almost all captures with noise issues.

A few years ago I read somewhere that one good reason to shoot Raw was that as software improved; one could conceivably reload a previously shot image into this new wonder program and take advantage of improved image processing. Frankly I was quite skeptical but I’m not so hard headed as to refuse evidence that is right before me.

(Click the images above to enlarge and take a look into the middle blues which were the whites of the boats tinted by the twilight sky and in the blue and red in the sky as well. See the noise in the 2003 process version? See the dramatic improvement in the 2010 process version? Miracles of Science, ehh!)

This however has several troubling implications.

  • First, it throws off my comparison between the G9 and G12 images because the G12 photos automatically process as 2010 (Current), so is the dramatic improvement I see in I/Q in the G12 partially due to Lightroom new sophistication? (Actually, however I can convert G9’s to the new algorithm and pixel peep a little that way for a bit better comparison, but still it introduces an interesting variable.)
  • Should I go back to any/all of my “A” list images post processed in Lightroom 2.7 and earlier and convert the raw files to 2010 (Current) for a complete reprocess workflow?
  • How about prints I’ve sold to people? Should I offer them a “new and improved” version? 
  • What about limited edition prints for which the version has ended. Does this new post process constitute a legitimate new version series?
  • Have I already deleted some borderline shot that might have had a chance for a decent print? (Coulda been a contenda.)

One thing is for sure. The dawn of a new era is here. History can and will be rewritten for many’s a capture. On one hand I’m happy. Seemingly this works to my benefit if you discount the labor cost of going back and reprocessing shots.

 On the other hand, the concept of “time travel and altering the past”, has always had dire consequences in the sci-fi stories of the early days and the present as well. Should this warning be heeded?

Only time will tell.

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January 2011

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All Photographic Images ©Arni Cheatham, Segami Images and Eyes and Ears, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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