Improving Old Photos

This is the side-by-side view in Adobe Lightroom of a photo I took on September 6, 2003.

Auburn (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) has quickly established itself as the nation’s most disappointing team, losing its second in a row Saturday when Georgia Tech pulled off a 17-3 upset behind freshman quarterback Reggie Ball and a ferocious defense.


Here is the photo as I delivered it to my client in 2003:

Auburn vs Georgia Tech September 6, 2003 [NIKON D100, Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX APO IF HSM, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/1250, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 270)]

I was still pretty new, not even one year shooting digital, when I took this photo. I would shoot only JPEGs and treated the process just like I had been shooting transparencies in the past.

Had I shot RAW I could have improved the photo even more. Here is what I ended up with after some editing in Adobe Lightroom.

Auburn vs Georgia Tech September 6, 2003

Frankly I was really surprised how nice the image was with my Nikon D100, which was a CCD sensor camera. Today my Nikon D5 and Nikon Z6 cameras both have CMOS sensor. While the ISO range was 200 – 1600, almost no one would shoot much above ISO 1600.

Auburn vs Georgia Tech September 6, 2003

Here I zoomed in a little for you. Not bad for technical quality. Since this was one of my first games with the NIKON D100, I started shooting at shutter speed of 1/500. I quickly realized I needed to be higher and in this photo shot at 1/1250.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019 [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 360)]

Today I am shooting football games inside at ISO 25600 with shutter speeds of 1/4000. There have been major improvements from my first Nikon D100 to my Nikon D5 and my Nikon Z6.

Here is that photo a little closer.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019 [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 360)]

Here is another before and after image.

ORIGINAL – Auburn vs Georgia Tech September 6, 2003

This is how I turned this photo in back in 2003.

EDITED – Auburn vs Georgia Tech September 6, 2003

Here the photo has been run through Adobe Lightroom and due to a few improvements in the software since 2003 I can give a client a better image with the same camera.


  1. SOFTWARE – If you have photos from many years ago, with today’s software like Adobe PhotoShop and Adobe Lightroom you can most likely get a much better images than you did way back when you first shot it by just editing it with the newer software.
  2. RAW vs JPEG – I cannot recommend enough that shooting RAW will give you more flexibility in editing. The biggest difference I know that I see is in the color. In RAW you can still change the color temperature after you shot the image with everything that the camera sensor was seeing. With JPEG a lot of that color information is lost.
  3. CAMERA – upgrading more often than every two years seems extreme to me. I mean, these are not cheap $100 P+S models here; we are talking about $2,000+ cameras. We may be professionals, but even for someone making their living from photography, that is a lot of money to be spending every other year.

When to upgrade your camera

  1. If you have a 16+ megapixel camera the only reason to upgrade beyond this is if you like to crop a great deal or you are going to make HUGE prints bigger than 30″.
  2. ISO – This has been one of my biggest reasons in the past to upgrade. Going from my Nikon D2Xs to Nikon D3 was huge. I went from ISO 100 – 800 to ISO 200 – 6400. That was the single biggest jump in significant game changer in my career with a camera. I had never shot any useable color images above ISO 800. I was getting awesome images at ISO 6400.
  3. Motor Drive – With fast moving things like sports have a 11 fps can make a big difference in getting that image.
  4. Shutter Lag – Early on with digital pushing the shutter didn’t give you instantaneous results. Cameras in the last few years are incredible.
  5. Auto Focus – Through the years this has been a major jump.

There are other new functions you might consider. Video settings are vastly better today. You can always order a camera and test it for 30 days and send it back. You pay stocking fee, but you get to really test it to see if it is worth the upgrade.