Looking back six years into the archives

Barn in Gilman, Iowa
Abandoned barn in late-afternoon light on Hwy. 146, Gilman, Iowa, in November 2004. | Canon 10D and Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX HSM lens @ 12mm; exposed 1/100 sec. @ f/20, ISO 200.

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine from my days as a student at Grinnell College asked me if I had any landscapes of Iowa that she might frame up for her apartment.  For one reason or another it took me a while to get back to her–sometimes, my e-mail inbox gets a bit clogged.

Original capture of the barn
Original capture of the barn

While going through my landscapes from Iowa, which were less abundant than I expected, truth me told, I found this image of a barn near Gilman, Iowa, which was just a stone’s throw from Grinnell on state Highway 146.  I remembered this image when I saw it: I remembered that I never had the right tools to process it, even though it had a perfect exposure (the histogram went “to the right”).  It’s sharp, too–that Sigma 12-24mm was a strange but surprisingly sharp piece of glass.  At least, my copy of the lens was.  As with anything from Sigma, your mileage may vary.  I purchased it early in 2004, back when it was first introduced for about $500, and there were not many options for getting a truly wide perspective on the APS-C cropped cameras.  Interestingly, the Sigma 12-24mm is now sells for $800.  Crazy little world!

At the time I made this image, I was using Capture ONE from Phase ONE as my primary RAW converter, and found this image to be far too difficult to tone properly.  But here it was, sitting in my Lightroom database, long-since converted to a DNG file (the universal RAW format that all manufacturers should be using, but that’s a topic for another day).

I set a custom white balance, and then established a black point and white point.  Then I adjusted the curves to make the black a little richer–I don’t find going beyond about 9 on the black slider in either Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW is very effective.  Three brush strokes and a gradient later, the image was ready to go into Photoshop for some final tweaks–normally unnecessary, as I find the global adjustments with the brush and gradient tools for localized toning to be sufficient for my images.

Amazing what you can do with your images now that you couldn’t–or, at least, didn’t know how to–do a few years ago.

What gems are gathering dust in your archive?

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