Hoarding Data

I’m a bit of a hoarder, especially when it comes to my digital image files. I’ve read articles on how to organize your digital library and often it involves removing out of focus and poorly exposed images immediately. But I have a difficult time deleting even the blurriest, overexposed image. There are at least two reasons for this: (1) memory is cheap and (2) advances in post-processing software.

I came across a photograph I had taken last fall. It had promise, but a large portion of the sky was clearly overexposed. Typically I bracket my exposures for any composition so that I can recover blown out areas in post-processing by hand blending multiple images. For whatever reason, I failed to do that here. I recently upgraded to Adobe Lightroom 4 and heard great things about it’s ability to recover detail in highlight regions. So I gave it a try and was amazed.

Portion of original RAW image.
Portion of original RAW image.
Portion of final image - after processing in LR4 and CS6.
Portion of final image – after processing in LR4 and CS6.

Lightroom 4 uses a completely new processing engine – which takes a bit of getting used to – but clearly the results speak for themselves. For those interested, here are the settings I used in LR4.

LR4 settings used to recover details in highlight regions.
LR4 settings used to recover details in highlight regions.

So software can already deal with the grossly over/underexposed image. Surely it’s safe to delete out of focus photos! Well, not so fast. The folks at Adobe are already working on a feature to correct out of focus images. It really must be seen to be believed. So hang on to those files!

"Plains of Abraham", Adirondack State Park, NY
“Plains of Abraham”, Adirondack State Park, NY
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