Working with a candidate for the PAGB Awards, as a mentor, I was impressed when he pulled out some good images from his back catalogue of some years; pictures that we hadn’t so far considered. I guess we all have pictures that we take and never do anything with? So, in an idle moment, I had a look through a shoot I did two or three years ago with Mike Lawrence at Haslingden Hall in Cheshire.

Haslingden Hall is a Tudor Mansion which is now used as a Hotel. We had access to the hotel for a day in February, working mainly in a freezing marquee in the grounds. The Client we were working for provided models to wear the dresses and masks that were provided by local businesses. I was allowed to use one of the bedrooms to take model photos. Mike drew the short straw, or simply I beat him to it, but he ended up shooting in the staircase!

Today I played with a monochrome conversion of one of the shots:

_IGP1069-mono-copy

Technical: Single flash head, on camera, bounced off the ceiling and balanced with the ambient daylight. Insufficient light coming through the small Tudor windows meant that I had to work with high ISO…now, with my present camera, I wouldn’t worry about that, but with the K20, High ISO wasn’t great, so a modicum of noise reduction was necessary in post. We managed with very little equipment and I am wondering where the studio flash heads were that I am sure we took with us?

Processing: Lens corrections, including distortion; Correct verticals; Crop; Convert to Mono; Global Contrast: Mid-tone contrast: Vignette; Burn and Dodge; Noise reduction; High Pass filter.

Raiding the back catalogue was facilitated by the use of Lightroom and its key-wording feature. All new work is placed in a folder in a “sensible location” e.g. all photos of Saddleworth in a main folder under that heading, then arranged in order. I use key words to identify main aspects of the pictures, e.g. Haslingden Hall, Crewe, Bridal, Model…and so on. Later, I can bring to mind any one of those words and use the search facility to locate the photographs. My back catalogue now contains some 171,000 photographs, the vast majority being commercial photos taken in the last 7 years before I retired from SteelOrchid, so it is essential to be able to find pictures quickly using the search box.

I also use colour coding and star ratings. On the first run through new pictures, I identify the best shots by colour coding and/or giving a star rating – only reds and 3s are worth another look…so if I look back to my catalogue, I have already cut down on the number of images that I will review.

Revisiting the back catalogue is like finding a lost diary to remind you of a journey that you have been on. Most of my back catalogue reminds me that I am still learning, but just now and then it is possible to find something worth processing.

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