Winter Walk-Through

By Roger (27 Mar 2014)

I've gotten some kind words on the photo, below. Thanks. Originally, I made a couple of quick changes and put it in one of my blogs, back in early February (here). I have changed a few things since then, so let's do a short photo walk-through; we haven't done one since last year.

Old Town Manassas on a snowy night

Old Town Manassas on a snowy night

First, I've said this before, but, you have to get out there when the time is right to make the photos you want. I wanted a snowy night scene. So at 10 p.m. (no traffic), during a snowfall, I went to the Old Town area of Manassas and set up my tripod in the middle of the street. I protected the camera with a cover. Since, someone asked for the camera settings, I'll provide them, but there are countless variations that would have produced a similar photo. This is a Nikon D4, set to ISO 640, for 1/5 of a second; with my 16-35mm lens set to f6.3; and no flash. That gave me this photo.

I made some Photoshop edits to the photo I put into the blog, but I didn't get all of the trouble spots to my liking. I also decided that the color was distracting, since there were different temperatures to the lamps and reflections. I decided to re-edit the photo and do a better job. Here are some of the major flaws.

None of these could be corrected in the camera, so I'm moving to Photoshop.

None of these could be corrected in the camera, so I'm moving to Photoshop.

The edits were fairly easy, using the Clone Stamp Tool, primarily. These little things can make quite a difference in the final photograph, especially if you print them big and hang them. Beginning from the left side, you can see an orange extension cord. There is a small post and rope along the covered sidewalk – glad I didn't trip on that with my camera in my hands! Two pools of light from overhead lamps. There is a street sign in front of the building to the rear that I wanted to get rid of (actually, there is also one to the left of it, but I didn't want to reconstruct the entire doorway); a manhole cover; and a stop sign. I guess I might have eliminated the tire tracks, but they don't bother me. As I said, the color seemed distracting, so, when I got the photo back to Lightroom, I converted it to a toned black and white. I made some adjustments to the contrast and cropping. This was a pretty easy photo to repair, but there is a little more to this walk-through.

Twice a month, Mark and I meet with a local photo group, The Viewfinders.  And, every three months, the group brings in photos for sharing and discussions. Like most photo clubs, we designate themes, so I decided to use this one for the Winter Nights entry. I haven't printed anything for any of the recent discussions, so I was happy to have something to contribute. I even ordered it on a metallic-finish paper to give it a little more pop.

Well, I got the print back just two days before the scheduled meeting and was unhappy with the result. The print was darker than my the one I saw on my monitor! It was probably about a stop darker than I intended. Nothing aggravates me more than my own stupidity!

Both Mark and I have written blogs explaining how backlit monitors show a brighter image than your eyes will see reflected back on your print, unless you adjust the monitor accordingly. I have already taken the time to determine the settings and create my own preset to use before I export the file and send it to the printer. I just forgot to use it. Doh!

So, let me remind you (and me!), once again, to correct the brightness of the file BEFORE you send it to the printers. I now had a great example to show the group the consequences of not making the correction and why you shouldn't wait until the last minute to print your photo for the quarterly reviews. The photo was well-received, but you never want others to see your mistakes. That isn't much fun.