A S C R A P B O O K O F S O L U T I O N S F O R T H E P H O T O G R A P H E R
Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.
22 February 2017
We wish we could tell you this image was staged. But it wasn't. We found this lens sitting unscratched on the rough sidewalk we were navigating last week after some rain.
We walked right by it. We don't pick up lost items. We leave them, imagining that whoever suddenly realizes their loss is more likely to retrace their steps than visit Craigslist's Lost and Found section.
But then we stopped, turned around and walked back, reconsidering the scene.
How could that lens have fallen to the ground without scratching? Did it pop out of the frame during the storm as its owner was trying to quickly put it away in a case only to bounce off a shoe and tumble harmlessly onto the sidewalk?
We'll never know.
But we were glad to have proof that sometimes miracles occur. Sometimes the worst does not befall us. Sometimes we escape by the skin of our teeth. Sometimes no harm is done.
How could that lens have fallen to the ground without scratching?
Even if most of the time you can profitably bet on just the opposite.
We took a few shots with our Nikon D300 and 18-200mm Nikkor. We didn't like the angle or the setup. And we wanted more than the gray sidewalk. We wanted to include the brick border too.
Most of our shots were blurry even with image stabilization. We were shooting at f8 and 1/15 second at ISO 200 with a polarizer (we were just too lazy to take it off). We should have at least cranked things up to ISO 800 if we wanted to use f8. And we could have opened the lens up a good deal more, too.
But street shooting favors the prepared camera. And we shot with the camera we prepared.
Back at the bunker, we opened the DNG image in Adobe Camera Raw to tweak it. Then, because we knew we had introduced camera shake, we used the Shake Reduction filter to sharpen the image.
We made our preferred crop and reduced the image to 500 pixels, our standard fare here. But at that size you couldn't tell what you were looking at.
So we went back to the Crop tool and tried again. We tried just a shallow crop but that was the same problem in fewer pixels.
So we got bold and cropped closed in on about a fourth of the original image. Goodbye, we said to the brick border, consoling ourselves that the seam in the concrete remained.
We added a vignette, too. But dropped it, although the final image does have slightly darkened corners.
We tried it in black-and-white but it was incomprehensible. The color version was monochrome enough, frankly. And we tried a split-toned version but a second tone only mocked the first.
This image had a mind of its own.
But we should have known. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.