As my annual photography “Competition Season” looms closer, I realize that I have some really awesome photos to pick from this year. Some of them have shown a strong depth and evolution in my photography; others have offered me the chance to take a chance. Fancy chance that.
One of my earlier photos, however, bothered me. I liked it at first… I really did like it… so much so, in fact, that I designated it for a couple of competitions.
It’s this shot from a series I took of the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad as it passes over the Great Sacandaga River.
Yeah, I liked it – I really, really liked it…
And then, as Competition Season loomed, I was bothered by the photo. It didn’t show the colored foliage of the Adirondacks as well as I wanted. And it was hard to tell if the bridge was just spanning a river or a forest.
In other words … I had settled for “just good enough.”
That sound you hear is my high school English teacher, Bonnie Diefendorf, looking down from the skies and yelling at me to step up my game.
I went back to the photo array, and checked my available frames from that shot.
And I realized something.
Between the time I crafted that original photo and today, I had acquired a series of powerful photo software tools called the Google Nik collection. And after previously testing them on other photos…
I wondered what would happen if I used the Google Nik software filters on a picture from this roll.
I found a shot of the train as it was halfway across the bridge. A filter here, a filter there, a little dodging, a little burning, a little boosting…
Holy Delaware and Hudson, Batman…
Just so you have an idea of what I did to this picture… I boosted the color. The Adirondacks in autumn should have vibrant colors. Over on the right, I dodged some of the shadows to bring them out. I cropped out to show the wispy clouds and powerful stones and the blue sweet water.
And with that, I sent this picture – along with two others – to McGreevy Pro Lab to prepare them for one of the competitions.
Yesterday, I received word from McGreevy Pro Lab that the pictures were ready. Great. I’ll stop down and get them.
Normally, McGreevy wraps up my pictures and packs them so that I can’t see the finished product until I get home. This time, however, they had The Saratoga and North Creek Railroad facing outward, so I could see it immediately.
Readers… let me say this. This picture absolutely sparkles. A total winner all around.
And McGreevy even took the time to print up some sample 5×7 folding cards to show how The Saratoga and North Creek Railroad would look as a holiday card or a “special moments and occasions” card. I know it’s an advertising thing, and I understand it – but sweet Lord in holy heaven, this picture looks outstanding!
I guess it just goes to show. You should never settle for “just good enough.” Because if you know you can improve something … then you must make a good attempt to do so. In photos – and in life itself.
Take that with you this Friday. And I hope it spurs you all weekend.