Always Take A Second Look At Rejected Work

The dogs (we have three) got restless this morning. Of course! It’s Sunday and I wanted to sleep in. Got up to put them out. It was still dark and I heard some very intense munching coming from one side of the yard. I thought Wendy had gotten hold of a bone (never in short supply on a cattle ranch, she loves them, but they always give her doggy-rrhea). The more I listened, the more it sounded like Wendy might have been the munchee! The muncher sounded more and more like a T-Rex. I was hearing massive jaws crushing something very substantial. I went back inside to find a flashlight, came out and directed it where I thought I would find Wendy. She was there, but…

A few feet from Wendy were four rather large feral hogs just outside the fence of our yard, calmly chewing away on who-knows-what. They appeared to be a couple hundred pounds each, and didn’t seem the least bit bothered by me shining a bright light directly in their eyes. Usually, feral hogs run the instant they think a human is anywhere near them. These didn’t even look up. Never skipped a munch. Got the dogs back in quickly before pig and dog got into a shouting match. Feral hogs can be extremely dangerous and Wendy has far more courage than sense. I thought she was going to challenge them, but she never did. Lucky for all concerned.


In one of my first posts (“Everybody Has To Go To Work“) I reported a less than optimal result for that day’s photographing and showed a couple of afternoon images that I said were better than the morning’s take, but still not worth spending ink and paper on.

Well, I have learned over the years to go back over old work and always take a second look. Never throw anything out. Occasionally a gem is found amongst the rejects you correctly bypassed the first time and good images aren’t so common that any of us can afford to overlook one. In particular, if you start out the day capturing poorly seen images, improved work that might occur later in the day may be seen through eyes already tainted by disappointment. That was the case with this capture…

The first couple of looks at this image were not at all encouraging:

Better, but still doesn't make me want to use up ink and paper

A desaturated version looked like this:

Encircled (desaturated)
Encircled (simply desaturated) not at all encouraging

NB: Desaturate images temporarily to get an idea of what is there tonally, but always revert to color. Remember, you need those colors for full control of gray tones.

A later review made me try a few test prints…

The results looked promising, but I just couldn’t get the sky right. In particular, the area of the circle of cloud on the far right that is brighter than the rest of the circle, I felt needed to be brighter still. Everything I tried gave what seemed to be too much or not enough brightness and it all looked artificial.  Then I realized that was the wrong direction for this image, tried a test print without any alteration of that area. That was better. Finally tried just slight darkening and that worked.

Above the cloud ring the sky was very flat and lifeless, so a lot of contrast increase and burning was required. The foreground needed a heavy increase in color saturation so that contrast could be added there too. Otherwise it was quite lifeless also.

Encircled (finished image)
Encircled (finished image)

Above is the final print of Encircled, printed on a cold press watercolor paper, a brand called Quiller, which is sadly no longer available. I have a small stock of it remaining. (Virtually identical to Arches Cold Press, Quiller is/was slightly warmer and of course, less expensive.)

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working up and printing some of the images shot here on the ranch over the last few months. Encircled went from being a complete reject, to one of the images I am more pleased with from those I have printed thus far. You just never know!

Cattle & Lightning

Here is another image that was found on a second chance tour of my files. I shot this a couple years ago and didn’t do anything with it until this past week.

Cattle and Lightning
Cattle and Lightning

Will show more final images over the next few posts.

I am thinking about making some videos of the process of making a print. Maybe post them on youtube and insert them into posts here. Don’t know how practical or difficult this might be. Getting to a final print is a very intense process for me, almost meditative and I am not at all sure that interjecting the video-making process might not just interfere too much, or cause me to lose track of my thought process.

Will have to try it and see.


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