Take Another Look

comments 12
California / Horizon / ICM / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


December 24, 2018 — Sonoma County Coast. May 4, 2021, My office.

I’ve done a lot of photogralogical* archive digs in the past months and have come up with an astonishing number of shots that were overlooked on first, second, and even third look. A number of my mentors have counseled not to even look at a shoot until days, weeks, or months after to shoot. They say it makes it easier to be objective. I’ve always made it a habit to dump the card onto the computer, make three backups immediately, and then plow through looking for the any shots that immediately jump out. This dump and dive routine goes back to advertising days when I was inevitably working on a deadline and didn’t have the luxury of time. That and I’m prone to impatience.

The thing is, I very often will find one or two shots that scream at me to work on them right there and then. I see the shot and I immediately see the final result in my mind’s eye and make it so. Publish the first draft, so to speak. It often works.

But my mentors do have a point. Letting that folder on my computer sit there and age gives me time to gain perspective and get over any preconceived notions I may have about a particular shot fitting a mold I may have formed at the time of the shoot. On the other hand, I lose spontaneity if I wait. Making quick decisions is a skill I developed over years and years of having to be right the first time in a high-stakes situation. It’s the same ability that has allowed me to whittle 2,500 shots down to 30 in two or three hours starting at 0 dark 30 and then post-process them and send them for printing at 03 dark 30  in my performance photography days. It’s not for nothing that I have that ability, so why not use it?

Still, my mentors do have a point. Perspective changes with age and distance. It did here.

But there’s something else I learned in the glamorous world of advertising: how to walk and chew gum at the same time. So why not employ both policies: immediate dive and lingering look? In fact, I do.

But this was the time for the lingering look. I did a very different version of this same shot last July. And that was still two-and-a-half years after the shoot.

Those mentors. That’s why they’re mentors.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 4.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)


* Of course it’s a word.

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at www.amagaphoto.com All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. I sometimes also can find a few past treasures. However, as the files become larger, it becomes more difficult to save everything. I wonder what gets tossed from first triage sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I keep everything except those that are technically beyond hope. It’s fascinating to me that I could look for your four years later and find a treasure the little bit overlooked on three or four or five or six looks through. Storage is really cheap. My twin 14 TB drives are filling up fast. And then there will be more.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Perspective changes with age and distance.” True enough, and with mood, and with events in the world, and most likely with other things we’re not even aware of.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely minimalist image, I like both edits. I have a similar work flow to you, always eager to have a look when I get home, I often picture the final edit before I even take the shot. My editing style has changed over the years as I learn more and ideas change. It very much depends on my mood to how I will edit an image. I always see something new when I go through the archives and find it hard to throw shots away … just in case 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. And my workflow has evolved over the years as well. I don’t throw anything out other than hopelessly messed up, out of focus, irretrievably poorly exposed images. Everything else is saved. Storage is very cheap these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful image. I agree with looking at pictures some time after the shoot, but I too do a bit of both these days. I don’t religiously keep everything and, on looking back through old pictures recently, I find that, mostly, those worth further processing have already been processed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There are many types of advice. Most of it can be ignored but the good stuff is well worth heeding. I employ the same technique as you. There are some frames that I wish to work immediately while my excitement is still fresh and others require a bit of maturation. Although my photography is more straightforward and representative of natural rather than creative reality, I still find that revisiting older files for new vision and processing abilities makes a difference more often than not. I really don’t think I’ve ever redone an image and said “nah, the older one is better”.
    As much as I liked and still like the July presentation, I find the additional sky and expanded layers here to be especially pleasing. Same goes for the subtle tonal differences in the hues. But either one would be quite the looker hanging on a wall. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Straightforward, representative work seems to work very well for Ansel Adams, the Westons, and many others. Beauty is beauty and it takes many forms. All can be appreciated and honored. I admire your work because it allows me to step inside your head and look through your eyes. I get to appreciate what you appreciate. And, as they say in New York, that’s not for nothing. Thank you very much for your comments. I like both the July version and the current version for different reasons. It’s mainly an example of how one’s own perspective can change with time. And I think that’s one of the best parts of life.

      Liked by 1 person

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