I was thinking about the times I've messed up my settings but managed to salvage an image and thought I'd share some examples. I often do this (too often) when I transition from outside in bright light and forget to slow my shutter down for the darker interior (the first example in our local farm shop on a very sunny day) or vice-versa.
We all do this right? Luckily I've been able to save some of my errors - usually when underexposed rather than blowing the highlights and more often than not - my "rescued" images are converted to B&W, especially at the extremes of over/under exposing - it hides all manner of sins!
This is the same image SOOC and with the exposure turned up +5 (the maximum in LR) and no other edits so you can see how off the white balance is - hence switching to B&W as I couldn't get it right even with adjustments (likely due to the mixed lighting too) and the resulting grain works better in B&W to me anyway.
I'm quite impressed with how much detail my camera managed to retain given how badly I exposed this! I hadn't planned to take photos inside but when my son gave me this excited face I had to grab it and had no time to adjust.
This next one is an example of when I accidentally overexposed, when my son moved directly under the downlight in our shower and I didn't adjust. I managed to salvage it as the highlights weren't blown and this went on to win an award in the Documentary Family Awards, placing 8th in the Details category in 2019.
This next one is a really old one from 2017 in midday sun and it's by no means perfect after I've rescued it but OMG - the story it tells, this is still one of my favourites even though it's nothing special from an artistic point of view. I remember this moment vividly - Priya's 2 year old little tongue trying desperately to beat the sun as her ice-cream melted on the beach after rock-pooling for the first time.
SOOC and my initial edit in 2017.
I actually knew this one was going to be overexposed but I didn't want to close my aperture and increase the depth of field. I have since invested in an ND filter for just this reason on super sunny days.
I've just re-edited it almost 4 years later as looking at it now I think it's a bit too green-tinged and I tend to edit for stronger colour and contrast these days. It also reminds me better more of just how gorgeously brown her beautiful Indian arms go in summer.
THIS is when I truly fell in love with details!
So don't immediately discard images you've messed up - if there's a reason you took it and you only have the messed up version it's worth a try! Play around with your edit and see if it really is a lost cause - you might be surprised and end up with an award-winning keeper or better yet, a beloved family photograph!
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Want to share your mistakes with us? Making mistakes is what makes us human and helps us to learn, our readers love to see that they're not alone in this. So get a little vulnerable with us and please do submit your images for this new series - "When I Messed Up". Email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit and impress us with your salvaging skills!