The Remains of the Day
It was a chilly, but lovely time at the cottage this past weekend. And while I never woke up early enough for a sunrise, I was able to capture some lovely sunset scenes.
Note: We continue to maintain social distancing policies, by driving direct, door to door and bringing what we need with us, to minimize or eliminate any need to go into local towns.
The grid below is a compilation of my favorite images, but I am also pulling a few out to talk about them in particular. Remember, you can click on any image in the grid to see larger images.
Going Fishin' - Before and After
The bridge and hillside overlooking the Indian River in Keene is a beautiful vantage point at sunset and sunrise (the river is feeding into Rice Lake at this point). Beautiful that is, except for the low hanging power lines. Cropping the top of the image would ruin the vista and visual appeal that the clouds added to to the scene. But using Photoshop and its Stroke Path feature, I relatively quickly removed the power lines using the Spot Healing Brush, aligned to a vector path. I have shots without people, too, but they are tighter framing and this is the real life perspective. Well, without the “real life” power lines, anyway. I also used an elliptical local adjustment to add some highlight to the old boat house across the river.
To get a better sense of my editing process, I've included the original raw capture on the left, the mostly-processed image in the middle and the final version after round-tripping from Photoshop, on the right. I took one final step, running the image through Topaz Denoise AI to clean up the sky and midtones.
When I encounter scenes like this, I sometimes think back to my film days, before computers and tools like Photoshop and Lightroom were commonplace and affordable. I would have had to live with this composition as it was, or force a tighter crop in camera or during printing. In those days, this image, straight out of the camera, would not have held the same allure for me. It wouldn't have been as immersive a visual experience, for the reasons listed above.
Back then, the closest I would have gotten to full control would have been shooting and processing/printing in black and white. But thanks to technology (and - admittedly my own interest), my creative process extends far beyond framing, cropping and exposure control. I have complete control over the final image before, during and after the shutter clicks. I'll be honest - that's a bit of a rush for me. I feel a tiny bit like Ansel Adams, from pre-visualizing the final image to actually making it a reality after the exposure. I will happily spend as much - sometimes more - time processing the images than I spent in the field capturing them.
I process virtually everything I shoot - or at least everything I intend to show publicly. I'm not ashamed of this, though some call it "cheating" and espouse the virtues of a final image SOOC. To me, post processing is an extension of the creative workflow, and a very important extension, at that. Every image I capture is in RAW format (with a few exceptions when using my iPhone - and even then, it's a rare occurrence).
Another before and after example, without the hoo-mans.... While I like the sense of peace and solitude in this version, the perspective and angle of view just aren't there. It doesn't feel nearly as expansive as the image above.
The Remains of the Day
On the same evening as the Indian River images, all within the span of about 40 minutes, I chanced upon two other scenes that had me parking the car. On the way towards Keene - chasing the sunset, if you will - I saw this massive birch (I think it's a birch but I'm not used to seeing them so large), side-lit and contrasted with the dark rain clouds, and I just had to pull over. There is such magical light as the sun goes down. I made several photos of this scene, but this is my favorite.
And then, on the way back, I decided to take Lakeshore Road, which parallels Rice Lake and leads right into Elmhirst's Resort. I knew from previous experience that there was a relatively high viewpoint, overlooking a farm field and the lake. However, what made me stop the car was not the lake view; it was the view into a field on the north side of the road, tall grasses softening but not quite hiding the tractor indentations in the soil. The low setting sun, side-lighting the field, also helped to add contrast, texture and depth, as the tracks converged into the distance. A couple old fence posts anchor the viewer to the foreground, but those receding lines are too powerful to ignore. The rainclouds partially covering the sky add their own sense of drama. If you look very closely, you'll see rain falling from those clouds, looking almost like mist.
Alpha and Omega
And lastly, I leave you with my bracketing photos from the beginning and the end of day. I was pretty chuffed to see that I captured the steam rising from my coffee mug; it was a pretty chilly morning!