BRENT PENNINGTON Sunrise ignites the sky over the north end of Lackawanna State Park on the morning of 10 August 2013.

This was the view I was treated to Saturday morning, for about ten minutes.  Of which eight were spent driving down the highway on my way to the park.  My morning plans had called for a sunrise outing, which didn’t work out quite as I’d hoped.  The conditions were right – some clouds, some fog – and this was the sunrise I had hoped to see, just not where I had hoped to see it.  After all, it’s kind of hard to shoot photos while driving…

By the time I reached a good spot to pull off and shoot near the park, the show was at its peak and starting to fade.  I was able to fire off a few shots of the real color but they’re nothing spectacular.  I mean, clearly the sky is spectacular, but I wasn’t able to pull in any good, strong foreground subjects and had to settle for a treeline in silhouette.  Damn, so close…

Okay, so calling it a partial skunking may not be entirely fair.  The shot above is fun, even if it’s weak on real subject matter.  And I was able to get a few others that were pretty good, or at least that I liked well enough to bother editing.  It wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still worthwhile.

BRENT PENNINGTON Pink clouds cross the sky above a farmer's hay field near Lackawanna State Park on the morning of 10 August 2013. BRENT PENNINGTON Sunrise casts pastel colors across the north end of Lackawanna Lake on the morning of 10 August 2013.

The two shots above are, once again, views taken in the opposite direction of the fading sunset.  A much subtler sky, to be sure.  The tractor and hay-making equipment was a nice touch – I’ll have to thank the farmer for leaving them out overnight.  And then down at the lake, shooting from the north end near the marsh, there was just enough color and fog to work with again.

But here’s the part that bugs me a little.  See all those lovely colors?  They’re thanks to a combination of mother nature and the new film emulation plugins I got the other day.  All the shots here are processed with the Velvia 50 emulation, a film that is famous for its intense color saturation.  Goodness knows I like how these look, but even so I toned the color down quite a bit from the emulation defaults.

So here’s the big question?  If I hadn’t had new toys to play with in post, if I hadn’t been able to try out the Velvia look, would I have bothered finishing these shots?  Would I have bothered keeping them?  I think so, or at least I want to think so.  But it bugs me a little, I guess sort of a vague doubt.

BRENT PENNINGTON Sunrise casts pastel colors across the north end of Lackawanna Lake on the morning of 10 August 2013.

Fancy editing should never be used as a crutch for a sub-par, half-assed photo.  That happens all too often as it is and I don’t really want to be contributing to it.  So I think that the standard moving forward has to be this: first, the Velvia look should probably only come out now and then.  And second, then only when I determine that the image is worth processing using my usual bag of tricks, but would be even stronger with some punchy colors.

Something to think about.

 

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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