Sometimes the stars align, everything goes right and the shot is just there. Today's image is of the Albany Covered Bridge along the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire, USA. (The first time we drove this road [in the early 70s] it was known as the Kancamagus Trail. I guess some things do get upgraded.) The KT (or I guess it would be the KH today) is listed as one of the best fall foliage drives in the US and the covered bridge is one of the highlights. I'm not sure if the price of gas had anything to do with it, but the road wasn't bumper to bumper along its entire length. It might have also had something to do with it being a Wednesday when we drove it. ??? Once you get above 1000' (max elevation is listed as 2840') the sky gets bluer, the clouds puffier, and the air sweeter (maybe that last one is pushing it). It was a cool, crisp fall day and we stopped at every legitimate turn off and several shoulders. We had to laugh when we realized we'd been on the road for two hours and gone a total of about six miles. We figured, at that rate, the sun would be setting as we drove into Lincoln, NH. We did pick up the pace and rolled into town in time for a late (light) lunch. To check out where (how) today's image was shot and processed, hit the "Read More".Doris likes to take shots of me taking pictures. Why? I don't know, it's just her thing. She's gotten me in some strange positions. Her shot of me today is one of the more reasonable contortions I've been in when she's shot me. In order to make the shot of the bridge more dramatic it had to be shot from a low position. The air was cool and the water cold. That sort of limited wading around in the river and definitely precluded laying down to get the angle. Luckily, nature provided a chair, a couple foot rests and a few points to keep the tripod out of the water. That last piece was just a perk. If the rocks hadn't been there, putting the legs of the tripod wouldn't have been the worst thing that could have happened. We both use Blackrapid's Rapid Strap, and just draping around the neck in this type a situation gives a little insurance about keeping the camera out of the water if the tripod should topple. Because it's a loose drape it doesn't affect the stillness of the camera on the tripod. It's not really visible in today's image, but the shot was taken with a 6x ND filter. Any water that might show any flow is quieted due to the longer shutter speed.
In a situation like I was in, camera down low, on a tripod, long exposure and not much wiggle room, Live View comes in very handy. That's why, in the setup shot, I'm trying to shade the screen so I can see the scene before putting the ND filter on (gingerly). The camera was in (just about) full manual mode. The focus was set to manual. The F-stop was set on F 22 and the shutter speed allowed to try to figure out what it should be doing. As insurance, it was shot as a seven shot bracket, with the brackets set to one stop per shutter click. This wasn't done with HDR (High Dynamic Range) in mind, but to give a selection of exposures to select from. For this type of scene, my "normal" EV (exposure value compensation) would be set to -2/3, so the selected starting exposure for today's image was -2 2/3. Now, for how today's image was processed.
First, today's image never left Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. I could have gone over and removed the guy in the red shirt standing on the rocks on the other side of the bridge. But, until I just pointed him out, you probably would never had noticed he was there. So why bother removing something you wouldn't have seen in the first place.
Other than pushing a few sliders around (Highlights, Shadows, Clarity) the big "trick" was using the Graduated Neutral Density Tool to open up the foreground. It was heavily in shade and was too dark to fit the rest of the scene. The scene was cropped to a 13" x 19" format and a Vignette applied at the end, but the entire processing took less time than it did to write the post. Literally, after the selection was made as to which exposure to use, it was five minutes of pushing a few sliders around in LR4 (or it could have been in Adobe Camera Raw [ACR]). If you're doing a straight image (unlike Wednesday's post that is a composite) where exposure, color, sharpness, etc are the only things that need tweaking: LR4 or ACR is 100% of all you need. Adobe Photoshop CS6 (or anything before) adds nothing to the processing of straight images.