Re-visit and Re-edit; Two mantras photographers should follow.


It was a drizzly spring evening in Zion National Park. The light was stunning the rain fell steadily on us on the bridge but us photographers didn't care. We were there for the light show and mother nature did not disappoint. The Watchman was lit up in all his glory and we were treated to one of the best sunsets I have seen, with few that have ever matched it.

How many times going to that spot did it take before I got that shot... probably 4 or 5.

I was standing on the edge of a 300 foot cliff that dropped straight down to a rocky slope. This slope would eventually end with another cliff and another all the way down to the Colorado River as it carved its way through the earths crust in the Grand Canyon. While I stood there I watched a photography group show up and nearly watched one stumble off the cliff because he was rushing to get the shot. As the other photographers gathered round and set up their gear the sun descended below the clouds on the horizon and beams of red light illuminated the cliffs below us. The deep orange glow crept across the horizon and we were treated with a sunset unlike any other I have seen.

This experience took three years of returning to the same spot. Since then I have not been seen a sunset like it.

With more experience the number of times it takes to get an amazing shot decreases, but the reality is that the best photographers return to spots they like until they find a photo they love, and even then they go back because its a great spot. Gary Heart is a great example of this as he runs workshops in the same spots year after year and with that he has built a collection of stunning shots from many locations. Many of the images from my portfolio have come from repeated attempts, particularly the images along the Escalante River. And that's the moral of this story.

The worst way to be a good photographer is to go to a location and plan on never returning.


I re-edited this image 4 times before I got what I liked out of it.

I have heard that Marc Adamus never re-edits images. I am not as good as he is, and I assume most of us are not as good as he is. So I go back and re-edit images. In-fact both of the images above have been worked over at least 3 times.

Why should you re-edit?

I can think of a few good reasons on why you should re-edit an image. The first one is that your skills have improved considerably since the time you took the image and edited it. This has been true for many of my images taken back in 2017-18. During this time I had never used luminosity masks and I had to make due with the skills I had. Other reasons I go back and edit has been a general shift in understanding in how a photo should look and I see some of my older images and consider that they are not up to snuff. So I go back and re-work on the image until I fill satisfied. This has been true for the image above and about 10 or 15 other images in my portfolio.

A photo I have revisited a few times

The final reason I go back and re-edit images to to sharpen skills. Sometimes I go back on a lazy Sunday afternoon and just spend time with images just to see what I can do with them. Doing this comes with a few advantages; the first advantage of revisiting an image for fun is that there are no pressure as to what the photo will do. The second advantage is sometimes I edit that image and then go play with the images around it and find out I can save those as well. So hidden gem finding.

Re-editing images has been considerably useful in my life and can be for you. If you find yourself bored on a weekend and the lighting sucks, go back and re-edit an image. Maybe you will be surprised on what you can discover.


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