A Look Back In Time

Way back in 2013 I wrote about the sea defences that protect Prestatyn and showed a series of photographs taken at sunset. When I look back at that post I realise how cringe worthy my photographs were then, mainly due to over enthusiatic use of HDR processing. Nowadays I would do those photos completely differently, so I thought it would be interesting to compare what was then and and what is now. In each case I’ll show the “then” first, with the second being the “now”

Sunset on Prestatyn Beach

When you look at these two, the difference is not too bad, although I do think the bottom one looks more natural. Cropping to the “rool of thurds” has put a different perspective on the bottom photograph.

Wide expanse of beach area at Prestatyn

Lets look at another pair from the same post.

Footprints in the Sand

Oh! My goodness what was I doing in the photograph above. Mind you, I probably wouldn’t even have considered this photograph for inclusion in a blog post today. It’s pretty boring and has no obvious point of interest.

2 Footprints
Footprints in the sand made by me

You can see where this is going. Nowadays I generally veer towards a more natural look for photographs. Yes, I still use HDR but not the pumped-up on steroids version of yester-year.

This one below was originally titled Blue Hour on Prestatyn Beach and so I pushed the emphasis of light towards the blue end of the spectrum, easily enough to do in Lightroom. But I was so into pushing the colours and bringing out detail from the shadows that I often forgot to take care of lens flares or dust spots.

Blue Hour on Prestayn Beach

This is probably another photograph that I would reject for use on the blog. But I do prefer the more warm colour.

3 Ripples
Ripples in the sand caused by tide action

Over the years I have tried just about every HDR program that’s available for PC. When I want something a little bit grungy, usually abandoned buildings then invariably I will resort to PhotoMatix from HDRSoft but I don’t push the sliders, like I used to do. Today I’m more likely to use Exposure Fusion than Details Enhancer. If you’re a PhotoMatix user you’ll know what I mean.

This is supposed to be sunset and yet you can see every detail in those rocks below. There are no shadows to speak of and that’s what I was trying to achieve in 2013. Really.

Sunset on Prestatyn Beach

With the sun setting, those foreground rocks would never be like that. Come to think of it, even in broad daylight they wouldn’t be like that.

Hidden by the incoming tide, these rocks can be slippery when exposed

Halo’s around the groyne marker caused by pushing the strength slider in PhotoMatix far too high and then I think I added a touch of Glamour Glow from NIK Color Efex as it was then.

Groyne Markers on Prestatyn Beach

Compare this to the far more natural version of the same photograph below. I know which one I prefer.

5 Silhouette
Groyne marker silhouetted against the setting sun

Earlier in this post I mentioned the Detail Enhancer preset in PhotoMatix which if over enthusiatically used tends to give that grungy, way over the top look so indicative of HDR on steroids.

Thin Yellow Line

Compare that to the photograph below that, yes has been blened for HDR, but this time in Lightroom, then sharpened using Frequencty Separation in Photoshop. I hope you’ll agree it’s a vast improvent from it’s 2013 version?

6 Sea Defences
Concrete steps and a curved wall help protect Prestatyn against the sea

OK! My final photograph for this post. Oops look like I really went to town with this one in Photomatix.

Mind the Steps

I’ve alos learned how to correct perspective issues, which has been made so much easier in Lightroom these days

7 Warning
When the tide goes out the concrete steps can be slippery.

Well that’s it for this post. I hope you’ll take time to comment. Do you think todays version of the photographs is better than those from 2013. I really would like to hear your thoughts – Mike

19 thoughts on “A Look Back In Time

  1. Hi! It’s a nice Idea for a post! What strikes me is the question, why you seem to crop every image the same way and the jpg export seems broken with the new images. They all look like less than 72dpi on my Monitor.
    What I really like, is that you follow a look in the new as well as the old images. Both version are a distinct set on their own.
    Actually, because of the simple lack of jpg quality of the new images, compared to the old ones, I like the old ones better…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Moritz. Thank you for your comment. The difference could well be down to me now using the WordPress Media server and the WordPress plugin for Lightroom as opposed to the original photographs being uploaded to Flickr and embedded into a WordPress post. Thank you for pointing this out and I will now start investigating. As to the cropping, I do tend to crop that way now using the 16:9 format


      1. Mike, WordPress compresses images when they are uploaded. If your blog is self-hosted ten you can use a plugin to disable that feature and use the quality of the original upload. If you host them on an external paid CDN/host/AWS you can bypass that problem.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think I know why Moritz may have seen the photographs as being terrible. Stupidly I uploaded them the the WP Media server at 944 Pixels which is the column width for my blog. From research, Retina displays would require at least double that pixel size, otherwise the photograph looks poor quality. Previously when using Flickr I have always uploaded at 2048 px.

          As a matter of interest I’m on a wordpress.com platform so there is no room for adjustment.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great idea for a post, both for you and the reader. I wouldn’t say that the originals are “cringe worthy”, but I get what you are saying. I do think that for the most part the new ones are superior to the originals. The sense of composition and the more realistic colors are the real obvious winners. The only original I like better is the last one, and the only thing about that is the cropping. I know why you moved the new one so that there is less sky, but I like the “more sky” in the original and would like the new one better if the shift went down instead of up, to again show more sky, less sign supports. That is soooo subjective, though. I hope you do more of these!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I might not necessarily do more posts like this but I have been considering re-visiting some of the places I photographed. Only this time the photographs will be so much more natural looking. Only problem is life seems to be getting in the way of photography at the moment.


  3. I keep my pictures towards straight from the camera. I don’t have LR and don’t know how to use PS. I don’t know if that’s an impediment but that’s how I’m

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are a bit too harsh with yourself I think, but then you are a professional. Don’t forget most of us using the site are non-pros. and happy just to take the occasional ‘good’ shot which illustrates our words and are even happy with those that don’t turn out too well. Having said that, I can see that your later photographs are an improvement on the earlier ones but until I saw the new ones I thought the originals were wonderful! So, maybe I’m learning something from you!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Mike, Congratulations on an excellent and insightful post. It’s an important experience to look back on work, assess and move forward. I share your cringe-worthy moments of seeing an old overcooked photo, although I’d also add that you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. You have a great eye. In post-processing, less is generally more, but there are a lot of images out there that could be vastly improved with a deft touch in post. Wishing you a wonderful and inspiring 2019. Happy shooting. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jane. I’m looking to get out more but so much is going on at the moment and we just seem to have dull grey skies all the time. Light levels are flat and boring and looking towards the mountains they are shrouded in thick cloud, so ut looks like it might be a while before i get out and get photographing

      Liked by 1 person

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