December 18, 2012


love photography. I guess if you read this blog even only once a year you already know that. But here is another reminder to me of why I love photography so much.

The awesomely gorgeous
Harpers Ferry railroad tunnel

This past Saturday we did a road trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, to see what it’s like during the Christmas season. It was beautiful, as always. And the crisp weather and rapidly approaching holiday cleared the streets of tourists, allowing us to stroll the streets in relative privacy. The serenity that covered the town paralleled the beautiful Christmas decorations that lined the avenues. When the bells on the church began ringing the hour, the scene was almost complete. The only thing remaining to make this the perfect scene was falling snow. But in West Virginia in early December, that’s not a common thing. Maybe we can go back when the next snow storm hits. After all, it’s less than 30 miles from our house.

under the railroad trestle bridge

But back to photography... The day was beautiful, with clear skies and light, wispy clouds. And most of my photos from the day show that. But when I wanted to take pictures of the grand Catholic church in Harpers Ferry, there was a family taking a great amount of time take family portraits on the steps of the church. I don’t blame them—it’s a beautiful place for portraits. But, it meant that there were people in the way of what could have been a beautiful picture of the church from where I was standing. So I lowered the exposure to cast the church as a silhouette and discovered that increasing the exposure just slightly past the point of silhoette allowed me to get some detail in the picture while rendering the people somewhat dark so they would not be a distraction.

Houses from the early 1800s
with Christmas decorations on the fence

I added these first three pictures to give you an idea about the way the day actually looked. Later in the day, the shadows were long and made the streets a little dimmer, but overall the day was quite bright and sunny. In the early afternoon, some wonderful clouds rolled in behind the church. The were not dark at all, but gave a great texture to the sky. It was quite beautiful. But as I underexposed the picture of the church to eliminate the distraction, I found that the clouds became wonderfully ominous.

Then, in keeping with the somewhat ominous look of the underexposed clouds, I reduced the color saturation in one of the resulting photos and ended up with a wonderfully ominous and other-worldly scene. Not Christmassy at all... but very cool.

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