This photo was taken only 15 minutes or so after a fierce little rain storm had passed through. Enough of a storm to have the rain coming down sideways and me hunkered over my camera bag trying to keep things dry! I've learned though that some of the best skies come after the storm and was lucky enough to wait. This is what I saw on Redington Long Pier that night after the rain.
Truth be told, I took this photo back in 2010. I processed it a day or two after it was taken and really hadn't touched the file again since. There was such a crazy distance between the highlights and shadows in this scene that I bracketed the exposure and merged them after the fact for an HDR image. At the time, I was enthralled with the power and uniqueness of HDR photography. A little too enthralled. It is a very unique style of photograph and easily has it's place for certain applications, styles and tastes. But, over the years, I have begun to develop a style or taste that differs from the HDR I played with several years ago. I like things a bit more clean. Dramatic, but realistic. Colorful, but believable. My goal became more about giving the impression of observing the scene, as if standing there yourself rather than an impressionistic interpretation etc.
So, just recently, I was doing some re-organization in my photo library and came across this original 'finished' florida landscape photo, along with the out-of-camera bracketed images from back in 2010. And, I knew immediately, that I could make it so much better. I had the same files to work with, from the same scene. But, my taste and style have changed so the outcome was significantly different. Because of this, I've noted a couple of things I realized. First, there's something to be said for the refinement that time and experience can offer a photographer as far as their taste, quality and style is concerned. Also, new or easier technology can make certain edits more possible or easier to envision given the original image. And, new styles or tastes can breath fresh perspectives into old images. All of that being said, I'm a believer in keeping old images and not just the 'finished' files but also the originals. You never know what you may be able to do, or decide to do with those files after some time has gone by.
Here's an interactive before and after look at the different outcomes that my style and taste provided from the same out-of-camera image:
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