The Benefits Of Re-Processing Your Photos

I was going through my photo library the other day and came across the photo here. It’s a photo I took about 5 years ago in Moab. I thought, “huh… that could be pretty cool if I re-processed it”. I mean, the sliders and effects and filters that we have today are far beyond what we had 5 years ago. Not to mention that I’ve refined my post-processing style quite a bit in the last 5 years too.

So I opened it up in Lightroom 4 and used the newer 2012 Process Version on it. I was able to really pull back the highlights in the clouds, use the Graduated Filter on the sky, and bring out some detail in the overall photo with clarity. Then I jumped into Photoshop and cleaned up some spots with the Spot Healing Brush and Content Aware (again, not around 5 years ago). Finally I finished it up with onOne’s Perfect Effects with some Tonal Contrast, color adjustments and a vignette.

When I got done, I was really psyched to see a photo that I’d long forgotten about brought back to life. It ended up leading to me sitting at my desk for about 2 hours on a Saturday afternoon going through old photos and re-processing them. Here’s a few more.

This one was taken in the Palouse region of Washington state. I never did much with it when I took it, but re-processing it brought it back to life for me.

This is another photo that I never did much with when I first processed it. But I ended up really like what I did with it with a little bit of time passing and a fresh set of eyes on it.

Your Weekend Project And A Question
So the question to you is, do you ever go back and re-process your photos from years (or months) ago? Do you also find looking thru a photo shoot after some time has gone by, gives you a different perspective on those photos? And while you’re around this weekend, try sitting down and looking through some older photos and see if you don’t come up with something new that you hadn’t thought of before. It’s a great exercise and I bet you’ll end up spending a lot more time with it than you originally set out to.

Coming Next Week
Just to let you know, I’ve written my post with my Death Valley photos so I’ll post that. And I’ve also got a post about my thoughts on the Nikon 24mm f/1.4 and why I liked it so much.

Have a great weekend!

  • Peter F

    Hi Matt, Have you replaced Nik filters with the products from onOne? Just seems in the last few posts that you’ve been using onOne to finish things up, where it seems that you used to use Nik. I’m using Nik but if there’s anything better or more flexible I certainly want to look into it! Thanks for any thought on the two softwares.
    Peter F.

    • Matt Kloskowski

      Great (and very fair) question Peter, as I did use Nik filters for a long time. The one gripe I’ve always had with Nik filters is that I had to go into different dialog box for each one. onOne has a suite. So it’s easy for me to open Perfect Effects, Black and White and anything else I want without exiting one and going into another.
      And since their Suite 7 came out, I’ve really liked their Brushing feature. Control points never really made sense to me and I never cared for the way I had to maneuver or duplicate them to get what I wanted. With the “Perfect Brush” in onOne’s plug-ins, I basically just brush the effect out of the area I don’t want it.

      So… those two things have caused me to switch over. Effect for effect, plug-in against plug-in, they’re basically the same. A vignette is a vignette. Saturation, Tonal Contrast, or color treatments are all basically the same between every plug-in out there. So, for me at least, it comes down to which is easier to use.

      Great question though. Thanks :)

  • pvanderheyde

    Hi Matt, great info and beautiful pictures!!
    I don’t have the same years of experience but I did had a similar experience when I switched from Aperture 3 to Lightroom 4 recently … It’s indeed an awesome experience to find an older picture and realize you can do so much more with it …

    It would be great to see a before/after version of those pictures in this post :-)

  • Leigh Catley

    And I thought it was only me. Without fail, the number of images I am actually pleased with immediately after a shoot is very minimal. Typically I will take a first pass viewing the images I shot, find myself disappointed with the results, pick out one or two to process, evaluate the processed images and then I walk away from the screen….disappointed.

    Almost always when I return, a day or two later, to those images, I see them completely differently. What I will call my “success rate” rises significantly and my previous disappointment is replaced with enthusiasm. I’m not sure why this is but the lesson in it for me is to not be too judgmental on my first review of images and definitely don’t start the process of culling images until I have let some time pass and have taken a second or third look.


  • Gene Mtl

    I also recently re-processed some old images. Not only has the software improved, but my own processing skills have also improved. One minor nit on the blog — a before and after of one or more images might have been nice :)

  • Dennis Zito

    Ya know Matt, this is getting scary! I did just what you did before
    Christmas last year (2012). I was going through some old photos from
    2005 and 2006 that I took with my first dSLR an Olympus E500. It had no
    IS or VR system and was tough to get sharp photos without being on a
    tripod or shooting at high shutter speeds. Anyway, I saw a couple of
    photos that I decided to reprocess. Like you, my whole processing
    workflow has changed like 5 times since then. I was able to bring these
    photos to life using LR4, CS6 and Niksoftware. I posted them on my
    NAPP portfolio commenting they were old photos using my new found
    workflow. I’m still in the process of cleaning up (deleting) and
    reprocess some 5-7 year old photos. Amazing how Great Minds think a
    like! :-)

    Great post and idea for all of us!


    • Matt Kloskowski

      We must have our brains connected in some way Dennis ;-)
      (which, btw… isn’t a good sign for you) LOL!

      • Dennis Zito

        I don’t know … there are time in CS6 where I could use your brain!

  • Myer Bornstein

    I have been over the last 3 months going back and re-editing my pictures and re-processing a number. They definitely look better as my skills and the software improves

  • Dennis Zito

    Hey Matt,

    I signed up for your onOne webinar the other day and with all the problems they were having I left. Did you finally do it and/or will there be a rerun?



  • john181818

    Great blog Matt. I have pulled some old photos from another camera out of the archives and taken them through LR4, but I need to look for others.


  • Ron Ozuna

    Hi Matt: I have to say that you h ave a great blog. I love your tutorials on Lightroom and your seminars. i did read that you introduced your new magazine, Lightroom, but it was very disappointing that you only have it available using the Apple iPad. Not everyone has or used an iPad, but we all do have and use a computer. It seems a little short sighted and maybe in the future your team will reconsider the medium you are using. Keep up the great work

  • akcrosby

    Very good artical. Yes, I have many photos that I have set aside for re-processing. Even some from our trip to Moab and southern Utah last April. I wasn’t going to upgrade to Photoshop with content aware, but now I think I will because what it can do. Thanks for all of the in-sights and thoughts that you give so freely to us photographers.

  • John Nolan

    Pretty cool photo and good send off to the weekend! Yes, I’ve been at my computer editing some football photos and should I or should I not delete! Well it’s almost like getting rid of your old jeans, while your wife wants to put them in trash. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!

  • Jim Fair

    Matt, great article, I transitioned from shooting JPEG to
    RAW files about 18 months ago and now plan to take a second look at the older
    files. Are there basic adjustments that you would apply to JPEG’s when
    processing in LR4 or CS5?

    Also, the first two issues of LR Magazine were great, I went
    out and purchased an iPad and feel it was money well spent for the information
    contained in the magazine.

    Also #2, I purchased the onOne Perfect Effects Suite, still
    trying to make my way through it, could you included more workflow with it in
    your videos, especially Effects and B&W? Thanks- Jim

    • FastPrime

      Jim, if you go to the OnOne website, and look at what is under the “University” tab, that will get you started in the right direction. But you are right … some of what Matt does to his images with that software is really, really special. Like you, I hope he will share some tips.

  • FastPrime

    Matt, I have gone back to some old photos and got good results doing it. Back in 2009 and again in 2010, some business took me to New York for a few days. Each time, I went a day early just to shoot photos in Manhattan. Later in 2010, Adobe Camera RAW advanced to process Version (PV) 2010 from PV 2003. Soon, LR added the Lens Corrections Panel and then OnOne released Perfect Photo Suite 6. Drawn in by the winds of such a perfect storm, I went back to some of my 2009 Manhattan images. What a fabulous difference from what the old tools offered! In particular, I had some images I had shot from a 35th floor hotel window. With dark, shadowy streets below and bright morning sky above, they were a big challenge for the cameras and software of 2009. Thank you for asking the question!

  • Doug Sundseth

    I tend to love the images I take when I press the shutter release, hate them when I ingest them into LR, love them a few days later when I pick my selects, and hate them when I start to edit.

    But I try to go back a year or more later to see the ones that I thought I liked at some point in the process to re-edit with the better current technology and better skill on my part. I sometimes like the results quite a lot.