The Roving Photographer

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Sunrise Color

BRENT PENNINGTON A late summer sunrise colors the sky over a foggy Lackawanna Lake on the morning of 05 August 2013.

So here’s this past Monday morning up at Bullhead Bay, shivering in shorts and a light jacket that weren’t the smartest choice while fog curled around my ankles.  I shoot here a lot, the shoreline and especially the dock being perennial favorites of mine.  If I keep working a location enough, I figure that I’ll finally manage to capture the real essence of it sooner or later.  Probably later, but that’s okay.

It was a meditative outing, where I wasn’t interested in roving far or chasing the light so much as just waiting with it, working with it as it changed, and enjoying the bursts of color that it brought.  Every five or ten minutes the light changed, move farther to the west and changing tone as the sun rose.  We’re already into the portion of the year where it’s rising behind the hill, instead of the marsh, which is a sure sign that summer is waning.  But not over yet.

Aside from this morning window, it’s been another dreary, bleak week here in NEPA. It’s been the summer-that-doesn’t-know-what-it’s-doing, bouncing wildly from unusually hot for weeks on end, to unusually cold, and now to gloom. Gloom that wouldn’t be so bad if there was some much-needed rain to go with it, but there’s been little of that.  And little motivation to get out with the camera and try making something of it.

Which no doubt had a lot to do with my choice of processing for these images.  I returned to them a couple of days later, in the midst of the bleakness, and saw them as an  island of escapism.  They’re colorful, an injection of vibrance into a world that has otherwise been lacking it. I guess I’m trying to compensate for nature.

BRENT PENNINGTON A late summer sunrise colors the sky over a foggy Lackawanna Lake on the morning of 05 August 2013.

My usual style works with colors in a much more organic way, taking them as they come, working with them at the moment of capture more than in post. In general, if I’m giving a little extra punch in post, it’s a global adjustment to the Vibrance slider in ACR.  I don’t often get into the colored guts of an image and start banging sliders around.

But this time I dug in and did just that – my usual method is to grab a slider and slam it back and forth from one end of its range to the other.  The results are ugly, but quickly show me what effect that channel has on the overall image, how prevalent it is, giving me the data I need to then go back and make a measure adjustment.  In this case, the adjustments are all to the Saturation and Luminosity values of the channels present.  (The luminosity of course controlling how bright a color channel appears, and saturation controlling how strongly the color appears.)

BRENT PENNINGTON A late summer sunrise colors the sky over a foggy Lackawanna Lake on the morning of 05 August 2013. BRENT PENNINGTON A late summer sunrise colors the sky over a foggy Lackawanna Lake on the morning of 05 August 2013.

Why don’t I do this all the time? I don’t think that every photo needs it. Nor do I always want all my photos to have quite this level of color punch. And in all honesty, it’s also time-consuming to edit my personal work this way, which is a luxury I don’t always have.  My usual style of “getting it right in camera” works, especially with sunrise/sunset scenes where a proper combination of exposure (which means under-exposure) and white balance is enough to capture the image in an accurate fashion.  But what the hell, this is art we’re talking about, and sometimes being accurate isn’t as important as being expressive, or imaginative, or just looking beyond the obvious and seeing the possible.

BRENT PENNINGTON A late summer sunrise colors the sky over a foggy Lackawanna Lake on the morning of 05 August 2013. BRENT PENNINGTON A Great Blue Heron perches on the boat launch dock at Lackawanna State Park on the morning of 05 August 2013.

So here’s some color.  None of it is too far out there – I didn’t create the purples, only punched them up.  It’s fun.  It’s an escape from a bleak week.  And it feels good!

 

Brent Pennington

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