Wow, time for a (photo processing) makeover!

The Connecticut River in Plainfield, New Hampshire. TNC’s Silverweed Seep Preserve. The version of this photo on the left was processed with Adobe Camera Raw in 2007. The version on the right was processed with Adobe Lightroom Classic in 2021.

Photo processing software and image styles change over time and I recently realized some of my older digital images could use a refresh. I switched from shooting slide film to shooting almost exclusively with digital cameras back in late 2004. I remember it taking me about 2 years to get up to speed with my photo processing. My goal then was to take a RAW file from my Canon cameras and process it in a way that felt similar to what I was used to getting from film. Judging by some of these shots from 2007 and 2008, maybe it took a little longer than I remember.

Young siblings play in the Eightmile River in Lyme, Connecticut. The Nature Conservancy’s Pleasant Valley Preserve. Connecticut River tributary. The top photo was processed with Adobe Camera Raw in 2007. The version on the bottom was processed with Adobe Lightroom Classic in 2021.

All of the images in this post are from a project I shot for both The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land as part of their respective conservation efforts in the Connecticut River watershed (New England’s largest.) I spent many, many days in 2007 and 2008 shooting from the river’s headwaters on the New Hampshire border with Quebec, to the mouth of the river in Connecticut where it empties into Long Island Sound. One thing I’m noticing is that I now prefer my images a little brighter and with more contrast than I did back then. Is that more in line with current trends or is it because I’m older and my eyesight has changed??!!

The cascades at Lower Falls on the Ammonoosuc River in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. Note all the spots due to sensor dust.

Reprocessing these images reminded me how much better image sensors are at keeping dust from accumulating. Back in the aughts, I had to hire assistants just to use Photoshop to clean dust specks off of my landscape images because it was so time consuming. I bought numerous swabs, and brushes, and devices to clean my sensors, but I was never very successful at it. It’s hardly an issue with today’s cameras thankfully.

The cascades at Lower Falls on the Ammonoosuc River in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. Fall. The top photo was processed with Adobe Camera Raw in 2008. The version on the bottom was processed with Adobe Lightroom Classic in 2021.

Back in the day, I used the ACR 2.4 profiles in either Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom (sorry, can’t remember!) Today, I use Process Version 5 in Adobe Lightroom Classic. It seems to pull more dynamic range out of the images (even these 13 year-old shots) and the Adobe Landscape profile (used on the above image) has a much more vibrant look that I like for some images.

Misty sunrise on East Inlet, Pittsburg, New Hampshire. Connecticut River Headwaters region. The top photo was processed with Adobe Camera Raw in 2007. The version on the bottom was processed with Adobe Lightroom Classic in 2021.

The photo processing tools in Lightroom have multiplied and changed many times since 2008. In the new version of the above image, I made generous use of the Dehaze slider, which wasn’t around in the old days. It’s a lot easier to color correct and grade an image these days, and I am grateful for it!

West Branch of the Westfield River in Chesterfield, Massachusetts. Just below Chesterfield Gorge. The top photo was processed with Adobe Camera Raw in 2007. The version on the bottom was processed with Adobe Lightroom Classic in 2021.

The changes to the above shot (and the below image) are more subtle than some of the other examples (I always liked the original shots a lot.) I primarily added some targeted white balance and clarity changes.

The Connecticut River at Sumner Falls (Hartland Rapids) in Hartland, Vermont. The top photo was processed with Adobe Camera Raw in 2007. The version on the bottom was processed with Adobe Lightroom Classic in 2021.
The sun streaks through clearing storm clouds above North Cove in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Near the mouth of the Connecticut River. The top photo was processed with Adobe Camera Raw in 2007. The version on the bottom was processed with Adobe Lightroom Classic in 2021. Photo processing has definitely changed over the last 15 years.

This final shot changed dramatically just by changing the profile from ACR 2.4 to Adobe Landscape.

Reprocessing old images is rarely a luxury I have these days, but maybe it’s time to squeeze in a few every now and then. I’ll keep working on my Connecticut River gallery for now. What do you think of these changes? Have you revisited older photos like this? Let me know in the comments section below.

Have a great week!
-Jerry

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