ON1 Inspiration – Going Back

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Every year I take some time to look at my portfolio from the years passed.  I look at how I post-processed my images back then and see if I have improved.   Most of the time, I can say my process and style has changed for the better, but when I want a real confidence booster, I go way back!

In this episode of ON1 Inspiration, we will look at some HDR work I did in 2013.  Four years ago doesn’t seem that far away, but in post processing years it is like a millennium!

If you ever find yourself in a Photo Mojo rut (or “phojo rut” as my good buddy Michael Cross says) one of the best things you can do is edit an image from the past and see how far you have come.  The improvement when you put the images side by side will more than likely be all you need to get over your pity party and back into the saddle.

Included is the original Raw file and a follow along PDF.  While the image may not be earth-shatteringly great, it teaches us a lot about how our current style can affect the outcome of the final image.

Download Practice File and PDF

9 comments on “ON1 Inspiration – Going Back”

  1. On June 29, 2017 at 4:14 pm Adam Rubinstein wrote:

    Hi Blake, Brilliant approach and one which inventories the changes in personal development, style, and technique. Again, I appreciate the use of split toning to tie together the local adjustment color modifications across the image. It is one I employ regularly. Who knows but in four years we may look back on that approach and say, “ugh”? What intrigued me was your decision this time to avoid using the selective color adjustments filter. Would you mind sharing your reasoning?

    1. On June 29, 2017 at 5:47 pm Blake Rudis replied:

      Thanks! I love going back and looking at my old “crap” haha.

      You know the split tone is very useful, I am wondering if I will ever not use it. However, I may just find a better way.

      As for not going into Color. I usually only do that if I really need to modify the colors. I practiced with this image before the recording and found it was not necessary as I loved the brilliant oranges and magentas.

  2. On June 29, 2017 at 6:44 pm sanjoy.moulik@gmail.com wrote:

    Awesome tips especially with the use of Split Tones and the Color Blending mode; I always get that wrong, and wonder what happened. Now, I know.

    We need you here more often…

    1. On June 29, 2017 at 7:09 pm Blake Rudis replied:

      :) Thanks! That is one of my favorite combos! So powerful for directing the viewer.

  3. On July 5, 2017 at 8:00 am Dave Safley wrote:

    Blake, I have to disagree with the harsh comments on your prior photo, when I first looked at that photo before your comments and watching the video, I loved and still love your first HDR shot. I saw that as a creative shot, very dramatic and “spooky”. Nothing wrong with that and I always remind my self, images are subjective to the viewer. YES, there are rules and regulations in photography. Then the 2nd re-done image, seemed to me to be not as effective in regards to “my” emotions and just saw the building as a more dull object in front of a sunset, not that is bad by no means, but I would have skipped by the re-done shot VS / stop and say wow that is a cool creative shot for the 1st attempt. I see this as over thinking the shot, but keeping in mind again, photography is subjective, but do not see the 1st image as deserving of such bad harsh comments it is creative for sure / not a good example of a sunset I would agree, but creative and spooky and something that pulled on my emotions – YES / so my comments here, may represent, Agree pull out your images from 4 years ago, and agree with this video if in fact 4 years ago you were attempting to represent an amazing sunset, but understanding that the 1st attempt is perhaps not “wrong” but just a different creative concept IMHO.

    None the less, I like them both for “different” reasons and different emotions.

    PS. I do agree with the concept of this video, going back and seeing the technically bad things that you may have done and rebuilding the image with what you have learned years later, so agree on that for sure, my comments above are from my own initial feeling off the cuff and often times that is a good place.

    Thanks for your valued presentation, we love everything about the one1 community and always love the contributions from pro photogs such as your self Blake. Take care!


    1. On July 5, 2017 at 1:23 pm Blake Rudis replied:

      I can see what you mean. Actually after I edited the video I did see there were some things that I liked in the first image. I particularly liked the drama especially with the sign, I think they worked well together. However, I did think the sunset was a bit over the top.

      I appreciate your constructive comments and your attention to the images, that means a lot to me!

      1. On July 5, 2017 at 3:57 pm Dave Safley replied:


        OH, I agree for sure – if the intent was regarding the Sunset, fully concur, great choice on using that image as a perfect example of taking something that was overly processed and building a new image that fit’s what you were after.

        Did not mean to sideline the topic here, and on that note – Great presentation and example of taking the time to revisit images from the past and apply new knowledge of post processing! Excellent topic and thanks for sharing your valued knowledge here with the ON1 Community!


      2. On July 6, 2017 at 6:09 am Blake Rudis replied:

        No sidelining at all you made some very great points.

        I do this practice a lot. when I am in a creative rut, I immediately look for a photo I processed 2 or 3 years ago (on or about the day of the rut). I try not to look at the first run with it as not to persuade my current processing efforts.

        When I am done I compare them side to side. The difference is usually striking enough to pick me up out of that rut and keep me going. The day it doesn’t is the day I need to consider new processing techniques to reinvigorate the creative spirit.

  4. On July 22, 2017 at 9:37 pm Malka Lew wrote:

    I like your suggestion to look back. If our technical skills and aesthetic attempts don’t grow our work is stagnant.
    As someone who has has spent years “doing” traditional art I find that I use my photographs as a collection of sketchbooks. I review old ones for inspiration or use them to experiment with new techniques or tools. [Metadata is like using notes or looking at color swatches.] I make small tweeks or even start over from the raw image and process it in a totally different way and have found some great results. Sometimes there have been ideas I had for a particular photograph which could not be achieved because there was no way to get it where
    I wanted to go or it required more effort, time or more expensive equipment than the shot warranted but when new tools became available reprocessing resulted in a much better photograph.

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