Revisiting an old photo

03Jun08

I’m a recovering perfectionist and like to get my photos just right. Because of that, I’m constantly revisiting old photos to try to improve them further.

Yesterday while going over the National Geographic Daily Dozen of selected photos , I came across a B&W photo of the spiral staircase taken at the Vatican Museum by Rolando Adriano (Look for “May – Week 5” in the pull down menu, and second photo. Don’t miss the other excellent shots as well). It looked VERY similar to a shot I made 9 years ago. I was quite happy that I shared a vision that an NG photographer had. While I actually think my composition is a little stronger — I prefered my version with the spiral handrail starting from the top left and right corner — I was greatly intrigued by the great amount of contrast he added to his interpretation.

While I thought Rolando actually had too much burning going on, his shot led me to go back to my own image and try to bring out more impact.

I started with this:

Staircase at the Vatican Museum
Original

After some work selectively dodging and burning and controlling the levels and curves, I ended up with this version below. I mainly concentrated on adding more shadow detail under the stairs, bringing out the highlight of the intricate railing, and reducing the glare from the sunlit patch.

Vatican spiral staircase
Reprocessed

While the change might not be too dramatic, you might get a better sense of the change if you go to the full sizes I uploaded on Flickr.

Both sort to highlight different aspects of the image, but potentially both are equally good, but I think I prefer the second one for the greater drama and how it focuses the eye better to the lines of the staircase.

Drop me a line on which you prefer and why.

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