Bird, wildlife, and landscape photography by Jon Rista
Reworking Old Landscapes
Its funny how time, new viewpoints, and sometimes new tools can help you re-envision something you previously thought was unusable. Almost two years ago, I visited Roxborough State Park here in Colorado for the first time. Roxborough is quite a place, where gigantic slabs of brilliant red rock break through the earth’s crust, just before the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. For anyone who knows about Garden of the Gods, also here in Colorado, Roxborough is similar, and in some senses more epic in scale. This trip was quite a ways back near the beginning of my journey as a photographer, and I was a true novice in every sense of the word. My shots were poorly composed, under exposed, and seemed to be lacking much in the way of intriguing composition. The tools I had available at the time, Lightroom 1.x and Photoshop CS 3, were also relatively new to me leaving me with little skill to realize the potential of the photographs I had taken.
With my recent acquisition of Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS 6, far superior tools, I’ve begun reworking old works to see if I can turn once-throwaways into new keepers. My first attempts were with the shots from Roxborough that day in Nov. 2010. The results are nothing stunning, however I think they are indeed keepers now. While sifting through the mix, I found one shot that had an intriguing element in it. The shot was very dark at first, lacking any form of detail or intriguing subject…outside of a bright halo of a sky just above the horizon where the sun had set, and a white speck in the sky. After a little fiddling in Lightroom, this boring photo turned into an intriguing example of the early winter Roxborough landscape…complete with a crescent moon hanging in the sky:
While it may be a bit dull in terms of tone overall, I still find Roxborough to be quite a sight. I have visited it twice, once in early winter and once in later fall…I love the colors if this place at that time of year. I need to return sometime soon, hopefully this year, and see it full of green rather than earthy browns, reds, yellows and grays.
The freedom to completely rework a botched photo when using digital never ceases to amaze me. Early on, shortly after I first started photography with my 450D, I made the decision never to delete anything. That decision, while at times a two-edged sword (I have almost a terabyte of photos filling up my hard drive, with anywhere from 32-96 gigabytes more (2-6 16Gb CF cards worth) added every few days), has been a salvation as well. I’ve been able to rework numerous photos in recent months that I previously believed were unusable…either due to severe exposure problems, people in the frame, aircraft or vehicles intruding upon the scene. With tools like content aware fill in Photoshop, or extreme exposure correction and shadow recovery in Lightroom, botched shots can easily become keepers!