We know that we shouldn't place too much value on physical objects. All such things are transient. But maybe that's precisely why we value them so much-- I'm sure my appreciation for this bridge increased once I knew it would soon be coming down. It's part of the fabric of my life. As a kid, my aunt would drive my siblings, cousins and me across to Smith Point Beach in the summer, stopping to pay the toll at the end of William Floyd Parkway. By the time I was 9 or 10, I was draping my beach towel around my neck and meeting my friend Gina to ride our bikes across to hit the beach. As teens, our friends would dare each other to jump off into the bay below. Now, I'm kind of old, and often cross the bridge in my car twice a day- sometimes more if there's a good storm. But my favorite way to cross the bridge is still on foot. I love to experience the life of the bridge- the birds above and below, the people walking, biking, skateboarding; the campers and bikers crossing... anyway- I digress, maybe I should write a book! This blog is about one particular sunrise on the first of November, and how I chose to edit my shots.
I don't pretend to be an expert photographer, but maybe a little better than average, so maybe I can provide a few insights for the average photographer. I know I still have a lot to learn.
First- how I chose this location. I shot from the Smith Point Marina. During the summer, the sun would rise over those condos to the left. Experience and an app called The Photographers Ephemeris told me that today the sun would be behind my beloved bridge. Several weather apps let me know the sky would be partly cloudy (the best!), and -the clincher- the winds would be no more than 4 mph- ensuring a great reflection on the still water.
I set up a camera with a longer lens on a tripod, and had a handheld with a wide lens so I could climb down through the weeds. These are by no means the only or even the best options- just what I did today.
I also always make sure to check my back. This is the view across the bay to the FINS tower- another structure I have an affinity for.
Now a few words about editing. I shoot in RAW and use Lightroom. Everyone has their own style. Some people go for wow factor- a lot of people like that. My inclination however, is to communicate the serenity of what I'm seeing. That being said, a morning like this presented a challenge for me. The sky was so intense, that my usual editing steps just made it more, rather than less vibrant.
To make editing faster, it's useful to create a preset in Lightroom. This means you edit one image, save the settings, and just apply them to every image. This doesn't work well for sunrises and sunsets like this though, when the light and clouds are in constant flux. But you can create a starting point and fine tune from there. My wide images were the ones that needed the most editing, because of the scene they encompassed. For most of those, I brought up the shadows, brought down the highlights and the black point. I always pay attention to noise reduction, particularly in luminance and color, and check that box to remove chromatic aberration.
Sometimes with these wider vistas, I feel like my composition needs a little help in leading the eye to elements in the center. This was the case in the photo above. I want you to notice not only the bridge but the heart-shaped stone in the center lower third of the composition. For this I applied a little vignette to help the eye along. I hope it worked!
Any day now- a new and hopefully not hideous bridge will begin to replace this one. So let's take a moment to enjoy this view.