I was looking through my old library in Lightroom and came across this one from a few years ago…taken at Oregon Ridge in Baltimore County in early Fall. For those of you who live in the area, this driveway is off of Shawan Road, almost directly across the street from the Oregon Grill.
This photograph serves as an interesting example of how one grows in their craft. When I first took this image, I was quite pleased with it. But, almost 3 years later I look at it and almost cringe at the mistakes I made. For starters, I rushed the shot. I was driving by and just happened to see these trees lined along the driveway, quickly pulled over, got out and took a few hand-held shots. I had my tripod with me, but didn’t even think about using it. There was no reason to rush…I was just so excited to see this beautiful shot, I kind of got lost in the moment. It’s an important lesson to learn…there’s no reason to rush unless there really is a good reason to rush.
I misjudged composition. You’ll notice the driveway is off to the right of the photograph, and the first tree on the left has a bit of space between it and the edge of the photo. This one mistake makes the whole image look a little right-handed (at least to me), when I was ideally going for the driveway to sit dead-center down the middle of the shot. That could have been corrected if I had taken my time and worked the scene…something I instinctively do more when I’m on a tripod as opposed to hand-holding.
I was also using a zoom lens (the Nikon 24-70) for this shot. These days I would have preferred using a prime lens, which, as opposed to using a zoom, will make me slow down and look more deliberately at the scene. When I need my feet to alter composition (as opposed to simply turning the barrel to zoom), I tend to look around and study the area more consciously.
I also think I overexposed parts of the photograph…which would have easily been corrected by adjusting exposure to -0.3 or -0.7 (a third or two-thirds of a stop faster). These days I live by the adage that it’s easier to bring detail out of shadows in post-processing than it is to get detail out of blown-out highlights. You can increase exposure in post with success, but decreasing exposure in post, especially to save overblown areas, is an ugly business.
One thing I enjoy about this photograph is the successful use of the Tony Sweet Soft-Ray Filter. It’s a filter designed by Singh-Ray which basically acts as a diffuser, adding a soft and gentle blur to the image.
In this particular image, it adds a dreamy feel to the driveway.
I rarely use the Soft-Ray filter…it’s the kind of filter that would go over well with wedding photographers wanting to add a sort of surreal look to their portraits…but this one time it seemed to be made for the occasion.